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220.4 Died Copyl 
Danielou, Jean 53*^0 

The Dead Sea scrolls and pria- 
itive Christianity* Helicon 
Press [1958] 

D DDQ1 OEfiOSSa 7 

The question that Jean Danielou here exam- 
ines or, as he puts it, poses correctly is the 
relations between the religious group of Essenes 
which we know through the Scrolls and the 
origins of Christianity. Through his brillant 
and exciting study of the Scrolls, Father Dan- 
ielou shows how they help us to renew our 
traditional picture of Christian origins by filling 
in the gaps within which the life of Christ and 
the beginnings of the Church unfolded. 

What kind of contacts did the Essenian com- 
munity have with the early Christian Church? 
What did the Christians and Essenes have in 
common? Such are the questions he poses. In 
his exposition he shows how the Scrolls bring 
to light a definite background of John the 
Baptist instead of the traditional view of one 
arising suddenly from an unknown world 
his contacts with the monks of Qumran and 
how the Baptist constitutes a link between the 
last moment of the Old Testament and the 
inauguration of the New. Father Danielou 
then presents the Teacher of Rightousness and 
the depth of his religious experience, his deep 
humility before God, his painful sense of sin, 
his admirable confidence in God, his experi- 
ence of grace and his acts of grace. This great 
religious figure, Father Danielou shows, is the 
support not the object of faith in the Qumran 
community. But the originality of Christianity 
in its very essence remains the person and 
mystery of Jesus. 


Professeur d 'histoire des origines chretiennes 
a I 'Institut Catholique de Paris 

The AND 

DEAD SEA SCROLLS Primitive Christianity 

HELICON PRESS, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland Translated from the French by SALVATOR ATTANASIO 

Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 58-14443 

First published in France by Editions de FOrante under the title 
Les Manuscrits de la Mer Morte et les origines du Christianisme. 

This edition first published 1958 
1958 by Helicon Press, Inc. 

OBSTAT: Edward A. Cerny, S.S. S D.D. 
Censor Librorum 

IMPRIMATUR: Most Reverend Francis P. Keough, D.D. 
Archbishop of Baltimore 

September 11, 1958 

The Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur are official declarations that a book or 
pamphlet is free of doctrinal or moral error. No implication is contained 
therein that those who have granted the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur 
agree with the opinions expressed. 

Printed in the U.S.A. by Garamond Press, Baltimore, Md. 
Helicon Press, 5305 East Drive, Baltimore 27, Md. 


IT is in no wise the purpose of this book to provide a 
history of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls nor to 
make an assessment of their contents. For this the 
reader is referred to the works of eminent specialists in 
this field such as Prof. Millar Burrows, Father R. de 
Vaux, Prof. W. H. Brownlee, Prof. Dupont-Sommer, 
Father J. T. Milik and many others. The only question 
we wish to examine here or at least to pose correctly- 
is that of the relations between the religious group 
which we know through the Scrolls and the origins of 

The immense interest aroused in this question and 
the freakish considerations it has sometimes occasioned 
in scholarly circles led me to make an attempt at 
establishing a basic orientation towards the question of 
the Scrolls in a series of lectures delivered last year. 
This book contains the complete text of these three 
lectures, to which have been added some further refer- 
ence material and bibliographical footnotes. Refer- 


ences to the New Testament are founded on numerous 
studies already published, and in this book I merely 
wish to point out the results of this research. 

It should be clear that this study is but a bare outline. 
Before a deeper one can be made, it will be necessary 
for all the relevant documents to be published and all 
comparisons and collations to be finished. Neverthe- 
less, it is possible to trace the broad outlines of such a 
study. It will be seen how such tracings renew our 
traditional picture of Christian origins and permit us 
to fill in the setting within which the life of Christ 
and the beginnings of the Church unfolded. Finally, 
such tracings will also make us better understand the 
originality and uniqueness of Christianity itself. 






John The Baptist and Qumran 15 

Jesus and the Zadok Priests 25 

Essenian Practices in the Community of Jerusalem . 37 

Is the Teacher of Righteousness a Dead and 

Resurrected God? 56 

The Zadokite Use of the Messianic Prophecies , . 72 
The Grandeur and Limits of the Teacher 

of Righteousness 82 



Essenes and Hellenists 93 

Dositheus and the Origin of Gnosticism . . .95 
Traces of Essenian Thought in St. Paul . . .98 
Saint John and the Theology of Qumran . . . 103 
Is the Epistle to the Hebrews Addressed 

to the Essenes? Ill 

The Testaments of the XII Patriarchs- 

The Work of a Converted Essene .... 114 
The Syrian Church and the Zadokites . . .118 

Ebionism and Essenism . 122 

An Essene Converted in Rome 125 





4 QpGen 
4 Qplsa 

Commentary on the Book O Habakkuk 
The Manual of Discipline 

The Book of Hymns or Psalms of Thanksgiving 
The War of the Sons of Light and the Sons of 

The Zadokite Document 
(Damascus Document) 

Manual of Discipline for the Future Congrega- 
tion of Israel 

Collection of Blessings from Cave 1 
Collection of Testimonia from Cave 4 
Commentary on the Genesis from Cave 4 
First Commentary on the Isaias of Cave 4 















Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental 


Evangelische Theologie 

Journal of Biblical Literature 

Journal of Jewish Studies 

Palestine Exploration Quarterly 

Revue Biblique 

Revue dTiistoire et de philosophic religieuse 

Revue de rhistoire des religions 

Studia Catholica 

Studia Theologica 

Theologische Zeitschrift 

Vetus Testamentum 

Zeitschrift fur Katholische Theologie 

Zeitschrift fur Theologie und Kirche 

The Religious Community 

of Qumran and 

the Evangelical Milieu 

IT is not my intention here to discuss what is con- 
tained in the scrolls discovered in the caves near 
the Dead Sea. It will suffice to recall that in 1947 a 
Bedouin accidentally stumbled upon the first cave 
which contained the most valuable of the scrolls: the 
Commentary on the Book of Hdbakkuk; the Book of 
Hymns or Psalms of Thanksgiving; the War of the Sons 
of Light and the Sons of Darkness; and the Apocryphal 
Genesis., recently unrolled. Two other caves were 
discovered in February-March 1952, one of which 
contained two copper scrolls. I was at Qumran on 
September 1 of that same year, and Father de Vaux 
told me it looked as though there would be no further 
discoveries. A fortnight later the Bedouins discovered 
Cave 4, the richest of all. Finally, seven other caves 
containing fragments of lesser importance were also 

At the same time, the excavations being carried out 
at the foot of the rocky cliff lying between Qumran and 
the Dead Sea led to the discovery of some ancient 
archeological ruins, now almost entirely cleared away. 
Coins found on this site, dating from 130 B.C. to 



70 A.D., clearly established that this had been the 
monastery of the religious community to which the 
scrolls belonged. The geographical location, as well as 
the doctrines and ritual practices described in the texts, 
have permitted scholars, in particular Prof. Dupont- 
Sommer, to identify this community with the Essenes 
about whom we had already known from the writings of 
Josephus and Philo the Jew. In this connection I refer 
the reader to the book written by Millar Burrows. 1 

A discovery of this kind is in itself quite sensational. 
But what endows it with a unique significance and 
character is that it bears a direct relation to the problem 
of the origins of Christianity, which is one of the most 
intriguing and exciting problems of historical research. 
As a matter of geographical fact, the Essenian commu- 
nity did live in Palestine and, more specifically, in a 
region visited by Christ. Historically, the final phase of 
its history encompasses a period of time that coincides 
exactly with the life of Christ and the first develop- 
ments of the Church. The first question, then, that 
immediately comes to mind is: Did early Christianity 
have any contacts with this community? A comparative 
study of the documents permits one to state that such 
contacts did indeed take place. In this book we shall 
deal with the following questions: What was the nature 
of these contacts? What do Christianity and Essenism 

*The Dead Sea Scrolls, Viking Press, 1955. French readers are 
referred to Geza Vermes* book, Les Manuscrits du desert de Juda > 
Desclee et Cie, 1953. The Revue Biblique, particularly the articles 
by Father deVaux, is indispensable for keeping up with the actual 
progress of the discoveries. 

The Qumran Community 15 

have in common? Wherein lies the uniqueness and dis- 
tinctiveness of Christianity? 

First we shall assess the nature of the undeniable 
relations that existed between these two movements 
during the first period of Christianity during its very 
birth. The central question of the relations between 
Christ and the Teacher of Righteousness will be 
reserved for the second chapter. And finally, in the 
third chapter, we shall deal with the first phases in the 
development of the Church. 

John the Baptist and Qumran 

The question of the contacts between John the Baptist 
and the hermits of the desert of Judah is not new. For a 
long time certain scholars have suggested that the Pre- 
cursor be viewed as one of those who up to then were 
known only under the name of Essenes. But the dis- 
covery of the manuscripts has in an undeniable way 
confirmed the Baptist's contacts with the monks of 
Qumran, whom we know to be identical with the 
Essenes. 2 This is one of the first important results 
yielded by the research, and one of the first enigmas 
satisfactorily solved. Henceforth the mysterious figure 
of the Baptist stands out against a specific background 

2 See J. SCHMTTT, "Les ecrits du Nouveau Testament et les texts 
de Qumran," Rev SR, XXIV, 1955, pp. 394-401; XXX, 1956, pp. 


instead of arising suddenly from an unknown world. 3 

Indeed, simple geographical data by themselves con- 
firm the certainty of these contacts. The region in 
which John conducted his baptismal mission is that 
which surrounds the River Jordan just before it empties 
into the Dead Sea. Now the monastery of the Essenes 
was located about two miles south, on the western 
shore of the Dead Sea. Matthew calls this region "the 
desert of Judea/* but Luke employs a different turn of 
phrase: "The word of the Lord was made unto John, 
the son of Zachary, in the desert" ( Luke 3 : 2 ) . It would 
seem that here the word "desert" designates a specific 
place, for this is the very word used by the hermits of 
Qumran to designate the region where they dwelt. 
Here then, "desert" does not designate just any wild or 
desolate spot but a precise location which, as Pliny the 
Elder has noted (Hist. Nat. V, 17), was planted with 
palm trees and watered by springs. 

We have striking proof of the identity of the desert 
of Qumran and the desert of John the Baptist. It is 
known that the four Evangelists apply the words of 
Isaias to John: "The voice of one crying in the desert 
Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the 
wilderness the paths of our God" (40:3). Now the 
Essenes had already been applying this text to them- 
selves. It is mentioned twice in the Manual of Disci- 
pline' "When such things come to pass in the com- 
munity of Israel, the men of Israel should remove 

*This point has been the subject of an important study by 
Brownlee, "John the Baptist in the Light of the Ancient Scrolls," 
Interpretation, IX, 1955, pp. 78-86. 

The Qumran Community 17 

themselves from the society of wicked men in order to 
go into the Desert and there prepare the way, as it is 
written: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight 
in the wilderness the paths of our God'/' ( VIII, 12-14; 
see also IX, 20). Such a similarity of content and 
expression cannot be fortuitous. It leads us to assert a 
similarity of views between John and the hermits of 
Qumran as well as their identity in that both "prepare 
the way for God." 4 

This leads us to investigate whether other points of 
contact will emerge, and there are many as we shall see. 
John came from a priestly family: his parents, Zachary 
and Elizabeth, descended from Abia and Aaron (Luke 
1:5). Now the people of Qumran also descended from 
priestly families; hence the name by which they are 
called in the scrolls, "the sons of Zadok." (Zadok was a 
high priest during the reign of Solomon.) It is this 
characteristic that makes them differ so fundamentally 
from the Pharisees. It is therefore quite probable that 
a contact was established between the family of John 
and the men of Qumran. It will be noted that the 
Benedictus, the hymn sung by Zachary at the birth of 
his son, being in conformity with the Essenian custom 
of composing hymns, also contains characteristic 
expressions of the Qumran scrolls : "for thou shalt go ... 
to prepare his way," "to give knowledge of salvation," 
"the Orient from on high hath visited us" (an allusion 
to the star of Jacob), and an imploration "to direct our 
feet into the way of peace." 

*Re the desert see also Isaias 2:7-11, and Apoc. 12:6, where the 
idea of "preparation" is also to be found. 


Having said this about the parents of John, we 
may ask the question: What about John himself? 
There is a passage in Luke which up to now has 
been entirely unintelligible, wherein we read that 
". . . the child grew, and was strengthened in spirit; and 
was in the deserts until the day of his manifestation in 
Israel" (Luke 1:80). One finds it difficult to imagine a 
child growing up alone in the middle of a desert. But 
we have seen that the word "desert" refers to the 
monastery of the Essenes; and we also know, as 
Brownlee has noted, that the monks of Qumran 
boarded young boys. It is quite probable, therefore, 
that John's parents boarded their son with them just as 
the parents of Racine entrusted him to the hermits of 

The portrait that the Evangelists draw of the Pre- 
cursor likewise offers details which coincide with what 
we now know about the people of Qumran. Thus his 
nourishment consisted of locusts and wild honey 
(Matthew 3:4). Now, the Damascus Document goes 
so far as to specify that locusts must be roasted. John 
abstained from wine and all fermented beverages, and 
certain evidence attests to the same practice among the 
Essenes (JEROME, Adv. Jov., 2, 14 ). 5 In fact, John 
appears to have been an ascetic in every conceivable 
way, just as Christ himself will emphasize (Luke 
7: 13 ) ; and the ascetic character of the life of the monks 
of Qnmran is one of the most distinctive features about 

5 See VERMES, Les Manuscrits du desert de Juda, pp. 60-61. 

The Qumran Community 19 

them. To this we add the fact that John was not mar- 
ried, and that celibacy was also one of the requirements 
of the sect of Qumran. 

If we examine John's situation in relation to the 
different currents within the Judaism of the time, the 
first thing that strikes us is his contacts with the strange 
environment of the Herods. This, too, can straightway 
be explained on the basis of geographical propinquity. 
The Herods willingly resided in the locality of Qumran: 
they had a palace in Jericho., at present being exca- 
vated, and a fortress in Macheronte on the opposite 
shore of the Dead Sea, directly facing Qumran. John 
was in contact with Herod Antipas, one of the sons of 
Herod the Great, the Tetrarch of Galilee who appears 
in the Passion. Mark tells us that "Herod feared John, 
knowing him to be a just and holy man: and kept him, 
and when he heard him, did many things : and he heard 
him willingly" (6:20). It was with extreme reluctance 
that he sacrificed him to Herodias; and we read in 
Josephus that it was an Essene who predicted his 
future glory to Herod the Great (Ant., XV, 10:5), and 
that another interpreted a dream for Archelaius, a 
brother of Herod Antipas (XVIII, 3:3). 6 

On the other hand, John reserves his severest 
criticism for the Pharisees and the Sadducees 
( Matthew 3:7 ) , and this brings us face to face with one 
of the great enigmas to which the discoveries of 

e On this point I disagree with C.-T. FRITSGH who is of the opinion 
that Herod the Great persecuted the Essenes, "Herod the Great and 
the Qumran Community," JBL, LXXIV, 1955, pp. 173-181. 


Qumran have given rise. As a matter of fact Philo and 
Josephus always cite three great Jewish sects: the 
Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Essenes. The Essenes, 
however, are nowhere mentioned in the Gospels. 
Undoubtedly the solution to this puzzling question 
must be sought in the fact that John names only those 
sects to which he was opposed. If he makes no mention 
of the Essenes it is because he identifies himself with 
them, at least to a certain degree. And this is a new 
argument with which to establish the links that unite 
him with them. 

But this is not yet the most startling aspect of the 
matter. That lies in the very teaching of the Baptist 
who announces that the Judgment of the world is 
imminent. This Judgment will be a divine action that 
will separate the wheat from the chaff ( Matthew 3 : 12 ) . 
It will comprise an effusion of the Holy Ghost and 
destruction by fire (Matthew 3:11). This Judgment 
will be carried out by one whose shoes John 
is not worthy of untying (Matthew 3:11). John's mis- 
sion is to prepare hearts for this coming visit of God 
by preaching penance ( Matthew 8:8) . And the sign of 
this penance is the acceptance of baptism by water, 
which gains one entry to the eschatological com- 
munity: belonging to the race of Abraham is not 

Now this can be found expressed in almost identical 
words in the Qumran scrolls. The principal text here is 
the Commentary on the Book of Habakkuk. In fact, the 
purpose of this commentary or Midrash is to show that 

The Qumran Community 21 

the events predicted by Habakkuk as heralding the end 
of the world took place during the time of the establish- 
ment of the community, and that in particular they 
came to pass during the lifetime of die Teacher of 
Righteousness. And this indeed, as Karl Elliger 7 has 
observed, exhibits an astonishing resemblance to the 
manner in which the New Testament presents the 
prophecies as having been fulfilled by the events in the 
life of Christ. The most remarkable example is the one 
already cited of the prophecy of Isaias (40) , a point to 
which we shall return later. Here we shall only make 
clear that for the people of Qumran, just as for John 
the Baptist, the end of days announced by the prophets 
has arrived. 

Moreover, the events that constitute the end of days 
are described by John in terms closely resembling those 
used by the men of Qumran. A fundamental idea of the 
community, later to be found in the parables of Christ, 
is that the purpose of the Judgment is to separate the 
good from the wicked. This Judgment will consist of 
an effusion of the Holy Ghost: "Then God in His truth 
will cleanse all the works of each man, in order to purify 
them by the Spirit" ( DSD, VI, 20 ) . But it will also be a 
destruction of sinners by eternal fire ( DSD, IV, 12-13 ) , 
and this notion of destruction by fire is particularly 
important because it appears in the Qumran texts. One 
finds it again in the Second Epistle of St. Peter 

7 Studien zum Habakuk-Kommentar vom Toten Meer, pp. 150- 


The idea that one must prepare himself for the end 
of the world by doing penance is a familiar one in the 
Qumran scrolls. The sons of Zadok actually call them- 
selves The Penitents. Further, they form a community 
of penitents; and the act of baptism constitutes entry to 
the community. And this is an extremely interesting 
point. One cannot help but be struck by the importance 
that ritual ablutions have for the sectarians of Qumran 
and for John, called the Baptist, and his followers. It is 
difficult not to think that there must have been a cer- 
tain connection between the two practices. 

It should be noted and this notation will be of 
great importance for what is to followthat if John the 
Baptist and the hermits of Qumran share the idea that 
the end of days has arrived with them, and that they 
are part of this event, they also agree in asserting that 
what has arrived with them is only the preparation for 
the last days, not the end of time itself. It should also be 
noted, as Brownlee has done, that when John is asked: 
"Art thou Elias? Art thou the prophet?" He answers: 
"No" (John 1:21). This was also the position of the 
Essenes. The Teacher of Righteousness, never repre- 
sented himself as the Messiah, any more than did John 
the Baptist. This brings them together, but in a manner 
that reveals the radical contrast between them and 
Jesus on this question. 

The fact remains that with respect to the eschatologi- 
cal climate of the time the resemblances between the 
group around Qumran and the group around the 
Baptist are striking. Must we conclude then that John 

The Qumran Community 23 

is but a great Essenian prophet? It is possible that he 
may have been an Essene. But it is more probable that 
he was only deeply influenced by Essenism. What is 
certain, however, is that he had a personal vocation. 
"The word of the Lord was made unto John, the son of 
Zachary, in the desert" (Luke 3:2). He had therefore 
a distinctive message of his own and "John's disciples" 
on several occasions appear as a group quite distinct 
from Essenes (John 3:25). This indeed is manifested 
in certain characteristics peculiar to his mission. His 
preaching is addressed to all Jews (Matthew 3:5): 
John appears as someone sent by God to all Israel and 
even to publicans and sinners. Now this contrasts 
greatly with the closed character of the community of 
the pious priests of Qumran. The baptismal rite per- 
formed by John is also very different from the Essenian 
ablutions. The Essenian baptism was nothing more 
than admission to the daily baths of the community 
after a year-long novitiate. There are no indications 
that the first immersion had any special significance. 
The baptism performed by John, on the contrary, 
appears like a prophetic gesture, realizing the effusion 
of living waters announced by the prophets and pre- 
paring for the effusion of the Holy Ghost. 

But this is not where the most important difference 
lies. The distinctive message of John is not, like that of 
the men of Qumran, only the announcing of the visita- 
tion of God, the coming of the Messiah, the effusion of 
the Spirit, His mission is to bear witness that the 
"visitation" has taken place, that the Messiah is already 


here, and that the Spirit is abroad. His mission is to 
designate Jesus as being the realization of the expected 
event. Indeed, his father Zachary did not speak of the 
"visitation" to come but he blessed the Lord "because 
he hath visited and wrought the redemption of his 
people" (Luke 1:58). John, himself, testifies to having 
seen the Spirit descend on Jesus and "gave testimony 
saying: . . . and I knew him not; but he who sent me 
to baptize with water, said to me: He upon who thou 
shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining upon 
him, he it is that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost" 
(John 1:32-33). And this is why John designates him 
to his disciples saying, "Behold the Lamb of God." 

Thus the community of Qumran allows us to re-dis- 
cover the climate of Messianic expectation which was 
also shared by the group among whom John lived. It 
seems, moreover, that this eschatological expectation 
was more alive during the time of the Teacher of Right- 
eousness than it was during the time of John title 
Baptist. It shows us how the coming of the Messiah 
appeared to be imminent, and therefore the men of 
Qumran mark a stage in the mystery of the Messianic 
waiting. But a final and decisive period opens with 
John, in which the Messiah is no longer expected but 
has already arrived. Thus John constitutes a link 
between the last moment of the Old Testament and the 
inauguration of the New. From now on his insertion in 
sacred history takes on its full significance; and the 
more apparent those traits which he had in common 
with the Essenes become the more so does his original- 
ity stand out. 

The Qumran Community 25 

Jesus and the Zadok Priests 

Heretofore we have sought for the points of contact 
between the community of Qumran and the Johannine 
group. Now we come to the second issue, dealing with 
the contacts between the monks of Qumran and the 
Evangelists and their following. I clearly specify the 
point to which I shall confine myself in this chapter. 
In fact the question of the comparison between Christ 
and the Teacher of Righteousness is one of a different 
order. For the present we shall content ourselves with 
asking the question whether Christ had any contacts 
with the Essenian community of His time. 

It appears evident that there were, if we recall the 
contacts that Christ had with John the Baptist at the 
time of His baptism. But one episode above all, that of 
the Temptation, here assumes its full significance. 
Matthew writes that Jesus was led by the Spirit to the 
desert to be tempted there (Matthew 4:1). Yet we 
have seen that the desert, otherwise not identified, 
would appear to designate the solitude of the Essenes, 
in view of the setting in which we find ourselves. 
Moreover, the traditional locus of the Temptation is 
on the very cliff, slightly north of Qumran, where the 
scrolls have been discovered. Thus the sojourn of Christ 
in die desert appears to be a retreat to a place of prayer. 
And it is the very theme of the Temptation that makes 
us think of the monks of Qumran: for them man was 
torn between the influence of demons and angels. This 
was the substance of their doctrine. Significantly, it is 


said that Christ was tempted by the devil and that later 
angels came to minister to Him (Matthew 4:11). 

For that matter the very first acts of the public life of 
Christ, according to John, take place in the region 
around the mouth of the river Jordan. It is there that 
He recruits His first disciples, who seem to have 
belonged to the group around John the Baptist. They 
were waiting for the imminent coming of the Messiah. 
Later we shall have occasion to say that one of the 
disciples of Christ, namely St. John, holds to a view of 
things that seems to be deeply influenced by the con- 
ceptions prevalent in Qumran. Consequently one 
would be tempted to think that he was an Essene. 
In any case, as Cullman has shown, the disciples of the 
Baptist constitute an intermediate link between the 
men of Qumran and the disciples of Christ. 8 This is 
confirmed by the fact that the attitude of Jesus with 
regard to the Jewish sects is an extension of John's. The 
Essenes are never mentioned in the Gospels, and the 
reason for this may well be that for Christ they cor- 
respond to "the true Israelites," "the poor of Israel." 

After making this assertion we can now point out 
more certain traces of contact between the milieu of 
Qumran and the milieu in which Christ recruited His 
first disciples. Initially it seems and this is a very 
noteworthy point that Jesus and His disciples fol- 
lowed the Qumran calendar. This important discovery 
was made by Mile. Jaubert. 8 It is known that one of the 

8 *The Significance of the Qumran texts for research into the 
beginnings of Christianity," JBL, LXXIV, 1955, p. 219. 
8 "La date de k derniere C^ne," HHH, 1954, pp. 140-176. 

The Qumran Community 27 

most difficult problems in the exegesis of the New 
Testament is that of establishing the exact day of the 
Last Supper. The synoptic Gospels make a paschal 
meal of it and fix the date as the evening of the 14th of 
Nisan, the first month of the Jewish ecclesiastical 
calendar, corresponding to March- April. But according 
to St. John the Crucifixion took place before Easter: 
Christ therefore was crucified on the day of the 14th 
of Nisan and He instituted the Eucharist on the 13th, 
in the evening. In this case the meal would no longer 
be a paschal banquet, which would contradict the 
synoptic Gospels, unless Christ advanced the date of 
the paschal meal. But what would be the explanation 
for this? 

The problem would be solved if it could be shown 
that at that time there were two different dates for the 
celebration of Easter. Now there exists an old tradition 
according to which Christ is supposed to have partaken 
of the paschal meal on Tuesday evening, and to have 
been arrested on Wednesday and crucified on Friday. 
This tradition has been neglected up to now. Mile. 
Jaubert has shown that the people of Qumran used an 
old ecclesiastical calendar of 364 days, containing four 
trimesters of 91 days, each of which had 13 weeks. 
Since there were exactly 52 weeks in the year, feast- 
days, according to this calendar, necessarily fell on the 
same day of the month and of the week. Furthermore, 
in this calendar Easter always fell on a Wednesday. The 
night before, therefore, was a Tuesday. Thus Christ 
must have celebrated the Last Supper on the eve of 
Easter according to the Essenian calendar. On the 


other hand, He was supposed to have been crucified on 
the eve of the official Easter which in that year fell on 

Once the calendar of the Essenes disappeared, how- 
ever, this date was erased from memory and the date 
of the Last Supper was established either as Wednes- 
day, according to John, or Thursday. The discovery of 
the Qumran calendar permits the true date to be 
restored and also provides an explanation for one of the 
enigmas of the New Testament. Thus one can better 
understand the significance of the events of the Pas- 
sion, because heretofore it was difficult to see how the 
multiple confrontations of Christ with Annas, with 
Caiphas, and with Pilate could take place in a single 
night. It is more satisfying to think that these encoun- 
ters took up the days of Wednesday and Thursday. 
And, in the last analysis a new relationship between 
Christ and the milieu of Qumran has been established. 

The question of the calendar is not only one which 
suggests a relationship between the Last Supper and 
the Qumran community. The very ceremony attending 
the meal presents analogies. Matthew writes: "And 
whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and 
blessed, and broke, and gave it to His disciples, and 
said; Take ye, and eat. This is My body. And taking the 
chalice, He gave thanks, and gave to them, saying: 
Drink ye all of this. For this is My blood of the new 
testament, which shall be shed for many unto remis- 
sion of sins" (Matthew 26:26-28). Even though the 
essential elements, namely the transformation by Christ 

The Qumran Community 29 

of the bread and wine, and the bond between the blood 
of Christ and the New Testament, have no counterpart 
in the Essenian texts, the very protocol of the meal 
recalls the meals of Qumran: "When they prepare the 
table to eat and wine to drink, the priest must be the 
first to extend his hand to bless the first portions of the 
bread. And if wine is being drunk, the priest must be 
the first to extend his hand to bless the first portion of 
the bread and the wine" (DSD, VI, 3-6). Such prac- 
tices, however, were common to both the Essenes and 
other Jewish sects. Hence it cannot be said with cer- 
tainty that Jesus had borrowed them from Qumran. 

There is something that is even more strange, how- 
ever. There is a fragment which describes the Messianic 
banquet: "When they gather around the table to eat or 
to drink wine, and the common board has been spread 
and the wine mixed, no one is to stretch out his hand for 
the first portion of bread or wine before the priest. For 
it is he who is to bless the first portion of bread and 
wine and the first to stretch out his hand to the bread. 
After that the Messiah of Israel will place his hands on 
the bread" (I QSa., II, 17-20, p. 117). 

The words of Christ will be recalled: "But yet be- 
hold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on 
the table" (Luke 22:21). Here above all it would seem 
that Christ's gesture makes manifest that He is the 
Messiah and the expected Priest. 

As a result, the religious community established by 
Christ and His disciples has been viewed as presenting 
analogies with the community of Qumran. And this 


impression is reinforced by other characteristics. On 
the one hand Christ established a group of Twelve 
Apostles as the supreme council of the community 
founded by Him. This is evidently an allusion to the 
Twelve Sons of Jacob the chiefs of ancient Israel; and 
thereby Christ gives a sign that He is establishing a 
new Israel. But perhaps this can be seen in a more im- 
mediate context. As a matter of fact it is worthy of note 
that at the head of the community of Qumran there was 
a council of twelve members and three priests. It is dif- 
ficult to say whether the three priests were higher in 
authority than the twelve; but if such was the case, the 
resemblance would be even more striking because 
among the Twelve Apostles there was a privileged 
group of three Peter, James and John. 10 

To this must be added the fact that the manner in 
which the Council of the Community is described 
singularly recalls what the New Testament says of the 
Twelve. In the Manual of Discipline we read: "The 
Council of the Community will be established like an 
evergreen plant, a sanctuary for Israel ... its members 
witnesses to the truth in view of the coming Judgment 
... It will be a tested bulwark and a precious corner- 
stone; and its foundations will never shake nor be 
shaken" (DSD, VIII, 5-8). 

Now one can cite equivalents to almost each one of 
these expressions in the words of Christ to His Disci- 
ples. "You also shall sit on twelve seats judging the 

10 See Bo REICKE, "Die Verfassung der Urgemefnde im Lichte 
jiidischer Dolcumente," TZ y X, 1954, p. 107. 

The Qumran Community 31 

twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28). "And upon 
this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell 
shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). The 
image of the precious cornerstone, which comes from 
Isaias (28:16), is likewise employed by Christ; but it 
is applied to His own person. 

It will be noted that this permits us to make a very 
specific point. It has been frequently thought that the 
organization of a hierarchy was a secondary considera- 
tion in the Church; that it was not a direct concern of 
Christ Himself, Who is not supposed to have wished to 
establish a religious community, because He believed 
so it was thought in the imminent end of time. On 
the contrary, however, it can now be seen how the 
hierarchy organized by Jesus seems to be rooted in the 
very milieu in which He lived and, further, how the 
idea of establishing this society hardly conflicts with 
the idea of the imminent end of time; because the 
people of Qumran, who also believed in the imminent 
end of time, did establish a formal religious society. 
And this likewise proves that the models which inspired 
the structure of the Church are not to be sought in the 
Hellenic world but in the Jewish milieu of Palestine. 

Another feature concerns the disciples that Jesus sent 
out to preach His doctrines in the towns and villages. 
His recommendation to them is well-known: "Carry 
neither purse, nor scrip . , . Into whatsoever house you 
enter, first say: Peace be to this house" (Luke 10:4-5). 
Now we can read the following about the Essenes in 
Josephus: "They traveled with nothing except arms to 


protect themselves against brigands. In every town 
someone was especially designated to receive them as 
guests" (Wars of the Jews II, 8, 4). A similar allusion 
is found in the Gospel. A few moments before Christ 
is about to be arrested, Peter says to Him: "Lord, 
behold here are two swords." And Christ replies, "It is 
enough" (Luke 22:38). This does not mean that the 
disciples of Christ were connected with the resistance 
movement organized by the Zealots, as Brandon has 
asserted. 11 Traveling as they were in a country that had 
plunged into total anarchy, the disciples had to assure 
themselves of a minimum of security. 

Yet, it is not only the structure of the hierarchy that 
shows the similarities between the religious community 
established by Christ and that of Qumran. A curious 
text attests to a similarity of the same kind in the organ- 
ization of the community itself. In the story of the 
multiplication of the loaves of bread, as recounted by 
Mark, we see Jesus ordering His disciples "that they 
should make them all sit down by companies upon the 
green grass" (Mark 6:39). Now the Manual of Disci- 
pline reads: "The people will march in due order, ac- 
cording to their thousands, their hundreds, their fifties 
and their tens" (II, 21-22). Doubtless, this was the 
procedure followed by the people of Qumran, espe- 
cially during their annual plenary reunions which took 
place in the month of September. The similarity there- 
fore is striking. It should be added, however, that this 
hierarchic arrangement is like that of the ancient 

^The Fatt of Jerusalem and The Christian Church, p. 103. 

The Qumran Community 33 

people of Israel at die time of the Exodus (XVIII, 21- 
25). Here again we are led back to a milieu which is 
more traditional rather than specifically Essenian. 

Alongside of these similarities concerning customs, 
we shall observe that in His discussions with the repre- 
sentatives of the Jewish sects, Pharisees or Sadducees, 
Christ takes positions that are often akin to those of the 
Essenes. Thus the Damascus or Zadokite Document* 2 
proscribes all kinds of oaths ( CDC, XV, 1-3 ) . The same 
proscription is to be found in the Sermon on the Mount: 
"But I say to you not to swear at all, neither by heaven, 
for it is the throne of God" (Matthew 5:34). A similar 
condemnation occurs of the practice of corban, that is 
the false consecration of an object to God in order to 
avoid giving it to someone else ( Mark 7: 11; CDC, XVI, 
13). In all this it would appear that Christ shares the 
Essenian criticism of the casuistry of the Pharisees. This 
always leads us back to the same milieu which is op- 
posed at one and the same time to the Pharisees 
because of their attachment to tradition and to the 
Sadducees because of their spiritual intransigence. This 
milieu, however, certainly includes the community of 
Qumran which was one of its spiritual centers. 

A point of resemblance that is particularly interest- 
ing is the attitude with respect to divorce, because 
there is a similarity in the very terms. In the Damascus 
Document (IV, 12- V, 17) we read: "One of the traps 
is fornication, by marrying two women at the same 

* 2 The Damascus Document is generally referred to as The Zado- 
kite Document or Fragment by European scholars. Tr. 


time, even though the principle of creation is: male 
and female He created them" (IV, 21). And in Mark 
we read: "Because of the hardness of your heart 
he (Moses) wrote you that precept (a bill of divorce 
to put away one's wife ) . But from the beginning of the 
creation, God made them male and female" (10:6). 
The similarity is so striking that this text is one of those 
upon which J. L. Teicher bases his assertion that the 
Damascus Document is Judeo-Christian. 13 This is un- 
acceptable. But the fact remains that in both cases the 
condemnation of divorce as a deviation opposed to the 
primal order of creation is the same. 

Thus certain aspects of Christ's conduct are not 
without their analogies in the community of Qumran. 
Must we conclude, then, that Christ had been an Es- 
sene, at least for a certain period during His life? On 
this point historians are unanimous in asserting the con- 
trary. 14 Nothing, either in the origins of Jesus or in the 
social frame in which He regularly lived, compels us to 
such a conclusion. The similarities that we have pointed 
out are striking, but they are not decisive. And if the 
characteristics that we have disclosed are, as a matter 
of fact, to be found among the Essenes and the disciples 
of Christ, there is nothing to indicate that they were 
peculiar to the Essenes. The ecclesiastical calendar is 
also found in the book of Jubilees and the First Book of 

13 Jesus* Sayings in the DSS, JSS, V (1954), p. 38. Also see DAVID 
DAUBE, The New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism, pp. 71-85. 

14 See in particular DUPONT-SOMMEB, Nouveattx oper^us, pp. 207- 

The Qumran Community 35 

Enoch which surely are not Essenian documents; com- 
munal meals or chabouroth, moreover, were an ancient 
custom. 15 

If the comparisons, therefore, rest very much on the 
surface, the differences in behavior on the other hand 
are striking. Here I shall cite two main examples of this 
difference in conduct which particularly impressed 
their contemporaries. 

The Essenes were deeply attached to the observance 
of the Law. In this respect they were even more metic- 
ulous than the Pharisees. Thus they were very strict in 
their observance of the Sabbath: members were forbid- 
den not only to work on the Sabbath but even to talk 
about their work (CDC, X, 19); they were forbidden 
to walk more than a thousand cubits ( 500 meters ) from 
their homes ( X, 21 ) , and also forbidden to prepare any 
food (X, 22 ) , or pick up rock or dust in a dwelling place 
(XI, 10 ) . In this connection we are in the possession of 
a case particularly interesting because it is alluded to 
in the Gospels. We are familiar with the question posed 
by Christ to the great scandal of the Pharisees after He 
had healed a man suffering from dropsy on the Sabbath 
day: "Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fall into 
a pit, and will not immediately draw him out, on the 
Sabbath day?" (Luke 14:5). This would mean that an 
action of this kind was permitted according to the code 
of the Pharisees. Now such a case is envisaged in the 
Zadoktte Document and the answer given there to the 
question is negative: "If a human being falls into a 

15 See GREGORY Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy., pp. 87ss. 


place of water, he is only to be brought up by using a 
ladder or a rope" (XI, 16-17). "If a beast falls into a 
well, nobody is to lift it out on the day of the Sabbath" 
(XI, 13-14). 

Now if we compare the conduct of Christ with re- 
spect to meticulous observation of the Law, we note 
that He takes an entirely opposite position. And He 
does this on two levels. First, He affirms the primacy of 
charity over strict observance of the Law, and this 
scandalizes the Pharisees and, a fortiori, the Essenes. 
To cite but one example, let us recall the passage where 
Jesus is walking across a corn field with His disciples; 
being hungry the disciples began to pluck the corn and 
to eat (Matthew 12:1). Upon seeing them, the Phari- 
sees say to Him: "Behold thy disciples do that which is 
not lawful to do on the Sabbath days." And Christ 
answers them: "And if you knew what this meaneth: 
I will have mercy and not sacrifice; you would 
never have condemned the innocent" (Matthew 
12:7). Charity therefore is prior to legalistic observ- 
ances. But there is even more here. In fact Jesus adds: 
"For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath/* This 
is an affirmation of extraordinary significance, the im- 
plications of which we shall discuss later. 

A second point on which Christ is radically opposed 
to the Essenes revolves around the conception of legal 
purity, particularly in regard to meals. One is struck 
by the scandal Christ provokes when He eats in the 
company of publicans and sinners. When Magdalen 
approaches Him, while He is dining at the house of 

The Qumran Community 37 

Simon the Pharisee, Simon says: "This man if he were 
a prophet, would know surely who and what manner of 
woman this is that toucheth him, that she is a sinner" 
(Luke 7:39). Now if this gesture scandalized the 
Pharisees, it was even more scandalous in the eyes of 
the Essenes. In order to be admitted to their com- 
munal meals, one first had to go through a novitiate 
lasting for a period of two years; and even then each 
meal was to be preceded by a ritual ablution in the 
pools that we have discovered and by a change of 
clothing. From an Essenian point of view, as Lohmeyer 
has observed, nothing is more revolutionary than the 
act of Christ breaking bread with the impure, or enter- 
ing the house of a pagan like the Centurion. We, too, 
must ponder the meaning of this revolutionary act. It 
suffices merely to note it to show how the group of 
Christ's disciples must have provided a distinct con- 
trast to the particularism of the men of Qumran. 

Essenian Practices in the Community 
of Jerusalem 

It is impossible to draw a line of demarcation be- 
tween the evangelical milieu and that of the first com- 
munity in Jerusalem. As a matter of fact the essential 
forms of this community, the council of the Twelve 
Apostles, the Eucharist Supper, and the baptismal rite, 
go back to Christ Himself; and we have discussed them 
in their proper place. Nevertheless this organization 


was still rudimentary and reduced to its essential 
structures during the lifetime of Christ. It was only 
when the first Church began to develop that she found 
it necessary to give herself a more institutional form. 
And here the comparisons that can be made with the 
community of Qumran are striking. 

Let us first take up the question of hierarchy. The 
hierarchy of Qumran comprised first of all the Council 
of Twelve. But below them were inspectors (mebaq- 
qer) who were responsible for limited groups. In the 
main their duties were to receive new members, to pre- 
side over meetings, and to supervise the distribution of 
goods. Now this strangely resembles those functions 
that we have seen performed in the first Christian com- 
munities by persons who were likewise called inspectors 
(episcopes). Originally the term did not designate the 
higher degree of the hierarchy, namely that of the 
Apostles and their successors, but a lower degree. It is 
a synonym for the word elders (presbyters}. The dif- 
ference between the words seems to me to stem from 
both Essenian and Pharisaic origins. Thus we have a 
hierarchy of two degrees which recalls that of Qumran. 

It must be said further that there are great similar- 
ities between their functions. In fact the role of the 
Christian episcopos is exactly that of presiding at meet- 
ings, in particular eucharistic meetings. Moreover, he 
is responsible for the admission of new Christians to 
the community: it is he who interrogates and baptizes 
them. Finally his function is best explained by the very 
control he exercised over the administration of the 

The Qumran Community 39 

goods of the community. Hennas, about whose affini- 
ties with the Essenes we are quite sure and whom we 
shall discuss later, writes of the episcopos as follows: 
"They are hospitable men who always extend a warm 
and open-hearted welcome to the servants of God. 
They have made of their ministry a perpetual shelter 
for the poor and widows" ( Sim. XX, 27:2) . 

Here a word should be said about the presence of 
another group in the Christian community, the pro- 
phets. This group has sometimes been contrasted with 
that of the episcopos as representing the freedom of 
inspiration in the face of the authority of the hierarchy. 
In fact it appears that here again we are in the presence 
of an extension of Essenism. Josephus makes mention 
of several Essenes who were prophets. The prophets 
heretofore fulfilled a role within the community. Their 
disappearance will be seen, then, not as the end of the 
inspiration of the Spirit, but more as the end of an insti- 
tution so linked to the Jewish world that it lost its 
meaning outside of it. 

We have said that the episcopos was particularly in 
charge of the goods and property of the community. 
This brings to the fore one of the points about the 
Qumran discoveries which has shed the greatest light 
on original Christianity. It is known, as a matter of fact, 
that the Acts of the Apostles tell us that the first Chris- 
tians held everything in common. Now this holding of 
goods in common and this renunciation of individual 
property is one of the most characteristic features of 
Qumran. At the end of his first year a member re- 


nounced the free use of his goods, while still preserving 
bis property; at the end of his second year even this 
property was renounced. The parallelism here extends 
even as far as the details with respect to the rules. We 
recall the story in the Acts of the Apostles of Ananias 
and Saphira who, having sold a field, did not declare to 
the community the full price received. They were 
subject to a serious punishment, as a result of which 
Ananias died on the spot. Now we find a case exactly 
like this in the Manual of Discipline-. "Anyone who has 
lied in the matter of his possessions shall be separated 
from the purity of the community for a whole year." 
(DSD, VI, 25). It will be noted, however, that this 
punishment is less severe. 

Since we are discussing the discipline of the commu- 
nity, some other striking analogies must be noted. 
Thus, with respect to the settling of disputes, the Man- 
ual of Discipline reads: "No one is to bring charges 
against his neighbor before the Council without first 
proving them before witnesses." (DSD, VI, 1). Now 
this is exactly like the Christian legislation as we know 
it in the New Testament: first one must directly ap- 
proach the person from whom one desires to obtain 
justice; if he refuses, the charge will be brought up 
before two witnesses. And if this is not enough the case 
is to be referred to the Council of the community. 

The requirements for admission to the community 
also offer interesting parallels. 16 The Manual of Disci- 

16 See J. DANIELOU, "La communaut de Qumran et Torganisa- 
tion de FEglise andenne," RHPR, XXXV (1955), pp. 105-107. 

fc'&ib' ^ *& 


mg f/ie Deo(i Sec, 


The cliffs at Ain Feskha overlooks 


Rmns of the monastery and Wadi Qumran 
wih the Dead Sea in the background. 

The Qumran Community 41 

pline tells us that the candidate must first undergo a 
course of instruction for one year. He is then admitted 
to the baths of the community. At the end of the second 
year he is admitted to the common board (DSD, VI, 18- 
23). It seems that in the very beginning Christians 
were content with a brief period of catechistic instruc- 
tion as evidenced by Philip's baptism of the eunuch of 
Queen Candace ( Acts 8:27-38). But very soon there is 
talk of a period of preparation which at one and the 
same time consists of a course of instruction and 
periods of fasting. 

Yet this is not the most notable aspect of the similar- 
ity, because it would then remain purely an external 
one. What is remarkable is that the very structure of 
this catechism seems to have been borrowed from the 
Essenes by the first Christians. The most ancient cate- 
chism has come down to us in two works of the second 
century, the Didache and the Epistle of the Pseudo- 
Barnabas, which texts make use of even more ancient 
material. This catechism is structured on the theme of 
the two ways, the way of light and the way of darkness : 
the Angel of Justice is in charge of the first, the Angel of 
Iniquity of the second. Now it is impossible not to rec- 
ognize here the structure of the catechism of Qumran, 
such as is found in the beginning of the Manual of Dis- 
cipline (III, 13-IV, 26). There we read that there are 
two spirits, the Prince of Light and the Angel of Dark- 
ness, and that the ways of these two spirits are opposed 
the one to the other. This doctrine of the two ways and 
two spirits appears to be one of the points in which the 


dependence of Christianity with regard to Qumran 
emerges most clearly. It should be noted, however, 
that the Christians subjected this doctrine to an essen- 
tial modification by opposing the Angel of Darkness not 
with an Angel of Light, but with Christ or the Holy 

The structure of the catechism is not the only point 
in the Didache and in ancient Christian rituals which 
shows a resemblance to the practices of the community 
of Qumran. Thus in Qumran admission to the commu- 
nity was preceded by formidable oaths committing the 
candidate to break with the Sons of Darkness and to 
adhere to the Law of Moses (DSD, V, 8-10). The an- 
cient Christian practice of renouncing Satan and of 
making profession of faith in Christ seems to copy such 
oaths closely. But it should be clearly understood that 
an essential change was effected by the act of joining 
which was, in fact, a confession of belief in the divinity 
of Christ. The practice of dressing the newly baptized 
in a white robe inevitably recalls the description in 
Josephus of the white garments worn by those who 
were newly admitted to the Essenian community 
(Josephus, Wars of the Jews, II, 8:7) . 

The resemblances are just as striking with regard to 
another aspect of the cult, namely the daily prayers. 
We learn from a text in the Manual of Discipline that 
the Essenes prayed three times a day, "When the light 
of the day begins and when it is in the center of its 
course and when it withdraws to its appointed habita- 
tion" (DSD, X, 1). Now the ritual of the Didache tells 

The Qumran Community 43 

us: "Pray three times a day" (VIII, 3). The three hours 
are not specified. They might conceivably have been 
the three hours during which strict observance of the 
Law required visits to the Temple, namely at three, six 
and nine o'clock which correspond to the canonical 
hours of Tierce, Sext and None. But it is much more 
probable that such prayers were recited in the morning, 
at noon, and in the evening. Here, then, we are at the 
origin of the three hours of the office of the liturgy: 
Lauds, Sexts and Vespers. 17 

In addition to the hours of prayer it will be of in- 
terest to note the relation of prayer to light. This is 
specifically described by Josephus: "Before the sun 
rises they address traditional prayers to it as if to im- 
plore it to rise" ( Wars of the Jews., II, 8:5) . This prac- 
tice is contrary to the usual Jewish custom of praying 
in the direction of Jerusalem. It is even formally con- 
demned in Ezechiel (8:16). On the other hand it is 
customary in primitive Christianity. The prayer ad 
orientem forms part of the baptismal rites. It is the 
origin of the orientation of the churches. This is almost 
certainly due to an Essenian influence as F. J. Doelger 
has observed. 18 Regarding the origin of this custom in 
Essenism itself, it may well have stemmed from a 
Greek or oriental source. 

Alongside of the diurnal prayers we also find noctur- 
nal vigils among the Essenes. Each night certain mem- 

IT JUNGMANN, "Altchristliche Gebetsordnung im Lichte des Regel- 
buches von EnFeshka, ZKT (1953), p. 218. 

18 SoZ Salutis, p. 44. Saint Basil makes an apostolic tradition of the 
prayer ad orientem (Traite du Saint-Esprit, 27; P, G., XXXII, 188B). 


bers of the community had to read scripture, "Blessing 
God together" (DSD, III, 7). This is to be found in 
Christian tradition ever since Hippolytus* Apostolic 
Tradition. It is the origin of one of our matinal noc- 
turnes: "In the depths of the night rise up from your 
bed and pray. The Ancients transmitted this custom to 
us. At this hour all the universe is in repose, blessing 
God. The stars, the trees and the universe are in repose, 
blessing God. The stars, the trees and the waters are 
still. The entire army of angels carries out its ministry 
with the souls of the Just. Thus, those who believe pray 
at this hour" (35). The entire passage has an Essenian 
flavor. The allusion to the Ancients marks the antiquity 
of this practice. This ritual of prayer, which forms a 
separate part of the Apostolic Tradition, has the un- 
mistakable air of being a Christianized Essenian ritual, 
such as those in the moral instructions of the Didache, 
It will be noted that these specified hours for daily 
prayer do not exhaust the practice itself. For the Es- 
senes, prayer had to accompany all the acts of the day: 
"At the beginning of each of my daily tasks, when I 
leave or enter the house, when I sit down or when I rise, 
when I stretch out on my couch, Him do I wish to 
celebrated (DSD, X, 13-14) . Now in the Catechisms of 
Cyril of Jerusalem we read the following: "Let us make 
the Sign of the Cross on our foreheads on every occa- 
sion, when we drink and when we eat, when we leave 
our houses and when we return, and when we go to bed 
and when we get up. Therein lies a great protection 

The Qumran Community 45 

)'' (P. G. XXXIII, 816 B). The similarity 
of expression is striking. Moreover, Cyril here is only 
re-stating traditional turns of phrase. 

The liturgy of the week also presents similarities 
between Christian and Essenian customs. The celebra- 
tion of Sunday, the Wednesday and Friday fasts corre- 
spond to the special days of the sons of Zadok. 19 Of 
special interest here is the Essenian custom of noctur- 
nal vigils consecrated to the reading of the Bible and to 
its interpretation, accompanied by liturgical hymns 
(DSD, VI, 6-8). Here we are at the origin not of pri- 
vate nocturnal prayer at the end of each day, but of 
vigils celebrated by the entire community, doubtless 
the vigils of Sunday night and of principal feast days. 
Now it is known what an important place such vigils 
held in primitive Christianity. Clement of Alexandria 
notes that "those who keep nocturnal vigils make them- 
selves like unto the angels called the Watchers" (Ped. ? 
II, 9). This is one of the Essenian names for 
angels (CDC, II, 18; Enoch, LXI, 12) and the passage 
cited is very much in this spirit. 

Two facts are noteworthy in regard to the annual lit- 
urgy, leaving aside great feast days like Easter and Pen- 
tecostcommon to all Jews and which we have pre- 
served by endowing them with a new meaning. On the 
one hand the Essenes held a solemn annual assembly 
during which members renewed their vows to the ideals 

19 See A, JAUBERT, "Le calendrier des Jubiles et les jours litur- 
giques de la semaine," VT, VII, (1957), p. 60. 


of the community (DSD, 1-16-19). There is a striking 
similarity between this ceremony and the annual re- 
newal of the baptismal commitment during the Easter 
season in the Christian community. In addition and 
this is specifically Essenian the community of Qumran 
especially celebrated the beginning of each of the four 
seasons which always falls on the same day, doubtless a 
Wednesday, given the calendar they used: "On the reg- 
ular day of each season, from the session of the harvest 
to the gathering of fruits, from the season of the sowing 
to that of germination, in short throughout all my life, 
one law shall be engraved upon my tongue, so that I 
may sing his praise" (DSD, X, 2-9 ) . Now Father Jung- 
mann has posed the question whether this might not 
be the origin of the Four-Seasons (loc. cit. p. 217). 

The dependency of the first Christian community on 
Qumran for its practices seems to be established on 
another point too. It will be noted that the New Testa- 
ment and the first Christian writers always cite the 
same prophets in the Old Testament in connection with 
Christ. As a result, it was legitimately inferred that 
there must have existed a collection of such prophecies 
for the use of preachers and catechists. Moreover we 
have others that date from the later periods. Such col- 
lections must have been very old and even anterior to 
the New Testament which makes use of them. 

Now one of the sensational discoveries of Qumran, 
to which Allegro in particular has drawn attention, is 
that of a collection of messianic Testimonial It is 

20 "Further messianic reference in Qumran literature/' JBL, LXXV, 
(1956), pp. 174-188. 

The Qumran Community 47 

therefore probable that the Christians borrowed this 
practice from the Essenes. But there is something even 
more striking: many of the Testimonia texts of Qumran 
are to be found in the New Testament or in the first 
Christian writers, such as those in Amos (9: 11 ) in par- 
ticular: "I will raise up the tabernacle of David . . . and 
I will rebuild it as in the days of old/' and Numbers 
(24:17) : "A star shall rise out of Jacob." The first of 
these texts is applied to James during the conversion of 
the Gentiles "after God had first visited" them (Acts 
15:14-17). The same text is mentioned in the Qumran 
scrolls and is applied to the establishment of the com- 
munity ( CDC, VII, 16 ) . And as for the text on the star 
which is to be found in several of the Qumran frag- 
ments (DSW, XI, 6; CDC, VII, 19), it is also a text of 
which the first Christians were very fond. Two passages 
in the New Testament seem to allude to it: the star of 
the Magi and in Apoc. (22:16) where Christ is called 
"the bright and morning star." 

More extensive and deeper research would multiply 
such examples, and show that a number of passages 
cited in the New Testament were dear to the monks of 
Qumran. We have already mentioned Isaias (40:3 and 
28:16), but there are also many others. The text in 
Amos, concerning Judgment Day, has a very important 
place in the Damascus Document (Zadokite) : "And I 
will break the bar of Damascus" ( Amos 4:5 ) is applied 
by this document to the exile of the community to 
Damascus and cited by Stephen in his speech before 
the Council (Acts 7:43). Zacharias* prophecy that the 
Lord would "strike the shepherd, and the sheep shall be 


scattered'* (Zach. 13:7) refers, according to the Da- 
mascus or Zadokite Document ( XIX, 8 ) , to the enemies 
of the community. Christ will apply it to Himself in 
Mark (14:27): "I will strike the shepherd, and the 
sheep shall be dispersed." 

Explicit citations of or allusions to Genesis 49:10 
(the scepter of Judah), 21 to Deut. 18:18 (the 
prophet ) , 22 and to Isaias 6:1 ( the servant ) , 23 and 11:1-5 
(the scion of David), 24 and 9:6 (the wonderful Coun- 
sellor) 25 can also be pointed out in the Qumran scrolls. 
All these texts play a very important role for the very 
first Christians, because it is through them primarily 
that they give expression to the great mystery of Christ. 
This point, without doubt, is one of those where the 
similarities that we are seeking to disclose are the most 
striking of all. 

There now remains the task of studying the meaning 
given to these texts, and it is there that differences 
appear. And they clearly express the contrast between 
the waiting of the hermits, for whom the Messiah is not 
yet come, and that of the Christians, for whom He is 
arrived. We shall return to this matter later. 

Thus it would appear evident that the first Christian 
community is immersed in a Jewish milieu akin to that 

21 4 QpGen; ALLEGRO, loc. cit. y p. 174; 1 QBen; Qumran Cave 1, 
p. 128. 

2*4 Qt; ALLEGRO, pp.182-183. 

2S DST, XVin, 14; 4 Qplsa; CDC, XIH, 10. 

2 *4 QT; ALLEGRO, p. 180 (see also pp. 175 and 176); 1 QBen; 
Qumran Cave 1, p. 128. 
, 3H, 10, 

The Qumran Community 49 

of Qumran from which it borrowed many forms of ex- 
pression. Seemingly such borrowings even increased. 
But it is no less evident that the character of the first 
Christian community does not lie in the details of its 
organization, but in the absolutely central place held 
in it by the person of Christ, His death and His resur- 
rection, to the point that it is impossible to imagine 
a recital of His life which does not center on this point. 
Is there a parallel to this in Qumran? For the second 
time we are led back to this central question, no longer 
in connection with the life of Christ Himself, but with 
respect to its place in the faith of the community. This 
is the question that we shall answer now by comparing 
Christ and the Teacher of Righteousness. 


Christ and the 

Teacher of Righteousness 

ONE OF the most extraordinary aspects of the 
Qumran discovery is that it has revealed to us the 
existence of a personage called the "more hassedeq," 
the Teacher of Righteousness or the "Right-Teacher" 
who incontestably appears to have been a great reli- 
gious figure. I deliberately say that the Qumran scrolls 
have revealed his existence. Strangely enough and the 
importance of this will be discussed later none of the 
accounts of Philo or Josephus which dealt with the 
very milieu in which the scrolls have been discovered, 
as A. Dupont-Sommer was among the first to point out, 
make the slightest allusion to him. Nevertheless, the 
1947 discovery is not at all the first such find that has 
brought him to our attention. He is, in fact, already 
mentioned and somehow this was hardly noticed- in 
a manuscript discovered in Cairo in 1896, the Zadokite 
Document or Damascus Document which has been 
identified as belonging to the same collection of manu- 
scripts found at Qumran. 

Here there is no question as to whether this person- 
age may have had any direct contact with Christ or 
with primitive Christianity, because he did not live at 



the same time. The question, therefore, is quite dif- 
ferent from the one that we have discussed in the pre- 
vious chapter. 

It is very difficult to determine the exact dates within 
which to locate his history: here we find ourselves on 
very shaky ground. We are dealing with a drama in- 
volving two personages: a pious priest, and an impious 
or "wicked" high priest. In the background of this 
drama is a group from which much must have been ex- 
pected (but which betrayed these expectations) and 
the prospect of a foreign invasion. Now, it becomes 
necessary to search through what we know about the 
Judaism that existed two centuries before our era for 
that specific situation to which these given facts 

There are quite a number of such situations. I shall 
not list all the hypotheses that have been proposed with 
regard to this chronological question. They have been 
admirably summarized by Millar Burrows. 1 It may 
suffice to know that the hypotheses which can be taken 
seriously stretch from the pre-Maccabean period to 
the end of the Hasmonean period, that is to say from 
around 180 B. C. to 60 B. C In every way, therefore, 
this Teacher of Righteousness appears on the scene 
at least a half-century before the birth of Christ. 

But another question poses itself which, if not the 
most exciting, is at least among the most controversial 
of those that have been aroused by the discovery of 
the Dead Sea Scrolls. As a matter of fact some exegetes, 

*Op. eft., pp. 171-217. 

The Teacher of Righteousness 55 

impressed by certain similarities between the expres- 
sions describing the personage and the history of the 
Teacher of Righteousness and those in the Gospels re- 
ferring to Christ, have thought that the Teacher of 
Righteousness was a sort of Christ ante litteram, as it 
were. Some have said that he was an incarnated divine 
being, and that he represented himself as a Messiah. 
Further, some have asserted that he had been crucified 
by pagan soldiers in the service of the high priest, that 
he had appeared in the Temple after his death, and 
that his disciples awaited his return in the "last days" 
for the last Judgment. All this would constitute an 
"Essenian myth" which later was supposed to have 
been applied to Jesus. 

Here we are no longer dealing with similarities 
between methods of organization or patterns of 
thought. What is in question is the originality of Chris- 
tianity in its very essence: the person and the mystery 
of Jesus. Thus the intense interest aroused everywhere 
by the question that has been posed is understandable. 
From the viewpoint of sheer curiosity, particularly at 
the journalistic level, there is a great temptation to 
make even more sensational something that already is 
quite sensational in itself. Moreover, the seriousness of 
the stakes involved risks inciting rationalists on the one 
hand, and believers on the other, to request the texts 
themselves. And this is much less easy to do because 
many are poorly preserved and others difficult to 

Nevertheless, once the first effect of surprise passed 


over and the different interpretations were collated, a 
certain number of conclusions were arrived at by the 
group of specialists concerned. Certain hypotheses have 
been definitely eliminated as a result of an objective 
study of the documents. Other points have been con- 
firmed. Finally, many questions are being disputed at 
the present time and will be for a long time to come, 
because the data furnished by the documents is un- 
certain. As more progress is made in the publication 
of the material on hand, new elements will un- 
doubtedly be brought forth. All I wish to do here is 
present, in line with current research and opinion on 
the Scrolls, that which is true beyond doubt, that which 
is certainly false, and that which is still subject to 

Is the Teacher of Righteousness a 
Dead and Resurrected God? 

In order to be able to compare the Teacher of Right- 
eousness with Jesus the essential problem is to find out 
exactly what we know about the former. The greater 
part of this chapter will be devoted to the study of 
this problem. 

Allegro, who is among those scholars who have 
pressed the comparison between Christ and the 
Teacher of Righteousness to the extreme, is sure that 
"Jesus is much more of a flesh-and-blood character 
than the Qumran Teacher could ever be" 2 because of 

*The Dead Sea ScroSs, p. 159. 


Father Danielou and Father de Vaux 
at the entrance to Cave No. 1. 


Cave No. 1 where the first discoveries were made: 
just above the figure can be seen the original entrance. 

The Teacher of Righteousness 57 

the greater documentation that we possess concerning 
Him. The character of the Teacher of Righteousness 
is infinitely more difficult to grasp, above all if we limit 
ourselves only to that which, with certainty, relates 
to him, by disengaging it from the entire halo of sug- 
gestions which do not provide a handle for an exact 

Here the basic text is the Midrash or Commentary on 
the Book of Habakkuk. The purpose of this work is to 
show that the prophecies of Habakkuk have been ful- 
filled in the history of the Teacher of Righteousness, 
But beforehand and this is an essential point it ex- 
plains that the very message of the Teacher of Right- 
eousness is to announce that the last days predicted by 
the prophets have arrived: "And God told Habakkuk 
to write down the things that would come to pass in the 
last generation, but He did not inform him just when 
the end of time would come. As regards the phrase, 
that he who runs may read, this designates the Teacher 
of Righteousness to whom God has revealed all the 
mysteries of the words of His servants, the prophets" 
(VII, 1-5). Here is something that is already amazing: 
the Teacher of Righteousness at first sight appears as 
a man inspired by God not to announce a new revela- 
tion, but to show that the last days announced by the 
prophets have come to pass. 

At this point we shall make three observations. In 
the first place we have already noted that the con- 
sciousness of living in the "last days" was one of the 
most outstanding characteristics of the Qumran com- 
munity in general. The text that we have just read 


seems to say that such a belief originated with the 
Teacher of Righteousness who had been inspired by 
God for this purpose. We have likewise seen that this 
feature was also characteristic of John the Baptist. Now 
we must go even further and assert that on this point 
John the Baptist accepts the revelation of the Teacher 
of Righteousness and theref ore joins his following. This 
aspect of the Baptist's message is not original. Finally 
we shall note that the method of interpretation which 
consists of pointing out the fulfillment of prophecies 
in contemporary events, viewed as belonging to the 
last days, is common not only to the Teacher of Right- 
eousness and John the Baptist, but also to the Teacher 
of Righteousness and Jesus. We shall see wherein the 
differences lie. But this point of contact is, nevertheless, 

The Teacher of Righteousness is therefore a prophet 
whose message is to announce the actual arrival of the 
"last days." While carrying out his mission, he runs 
into violent opposition, It is this conflict that the Mid- 
rash presents as the fulfillment of the prophecy of 
Habakkuk. It refers to the verse: "Behold ye among the 
nations, and see: wonder, and be astonished: for a work 
is done in your days, which no man will believe when 
it shall be told" (Hob. 1:5). The Midrash comments: 
"[This refers] to those who acted traitorously in collab- 
oration with the man of lies, because [they paid no 
heed to the words of] the Teacher of Righteousness . . . 
come from the mouth of the priest in whose heart God 
placed [His wisdom] in order to explain the words 

The Teacher of Righteousness 59 

of his servants the prophets, and by whom God has 
announced everything that will happen to His people 
and to [His congregation]" (II, 1-10). 

Thus the words of the Teacher of Righteousness 
come from the mouth of God, as is the case with the 
prophets. On the other hand he himself comes from a 
priestly group, as we know to be the case with all the 
Sons of Zadok. For having announced his message, 
that is to say the coming of the last days and the Judg- 
ment of God upon the wicked, the Teacher of Right- 
eousness had come into conflict with traitors in alliance 
with "the man of lies." This personage undoubtedly is 
to be identified with the "wicked priest" to be discussed 

There is a more precise identification in V, 9-12. The 
verse in Habakkuk ( 1: 13 ) : "Why dost Thou look upon 
traitors, yet keep silent when the wicked devours a man 
that is more just than he" (1-13), is interpreted thus: 
"This refers to the 'house of Absalom' and to the people 
of his party, who kept silent in the face of the punish- 
ment of the Teacher of Righteousness and who did not 
help him against the man of falsehood." Here the house 
of Absalom refers to a group of Jews, perhaps the 
Pharisees, who did not support the Teacher of Right- 
eousness. This point is of interest because it establishes 
that the Teacher of Righteousness had been the victim 
of a sentence of condemnation, undoubtedly handed 
down by the high priest and his tribunal, as Elliger 
suggests. 8 

*Studien zur Habakuk-Kommentar vom Toten Meer, pp. 53-54. 


Now we come to the two passages that have given 
rise to most of the discussions. The first is the Com- 
mentary on the Book of Habakkuk (II, 7-8). First it 
is necessary to quote the passage: "Will not your tor- 
mentors suddenly rise? Will not your oppressors come 
to life? Then you will be their prey. Because you have 
plundered many nations, all other peoples will pillage 
and plunder you." Then the text talks about the punish- 
ments to be visited upon the wicked. The Midrash is 
mutilated, but it begins thus: "[This refers] to the 
priest who rebelled" ( VIII, 16 ) . Then there is a lacuna, 
and the text continues, "Tiis punishment by the judg- 
ments of the wicked and the horrors of the evils that 
they inflicted upon him and the vengeance they 
wreaked on the body of his flesh" (IX, 1-2) . Then the 
commentary speaks of the punishment of the last 
priests of Jerusalem. Here another verse from Habak- 
kuk (2:8) is quoted: "This refers to the wicked priest 
whom, because of [the evil] he had done to the 
Teacher of Righteousness and to the men of his party, 
God delivered to the hands of his enemies who 
scourged and tortured him because of his wicked way 
of behaving against his Elect" (IX, 9-12). 

The controversial point at issue bears on the passage 
that follows the lacuna. A. Dupont-Sommer in fact 
interprets the phrases "the horrors of the evils that they 
inflicted" and "the vengeance they wreaked on the 
body of his flesh" in the sense of severe corporal punish- 
ment suffered by the Teacher of Righteousness. "This 
passage," he writes, "quite obviously alludes to the Pas- 

The Teacher of Righteousness 61 

sion of the Teacher of Righteousness: he was tried, 
sentenced, and tortured. He suffered in the body of his 
flesh; without a doubt he was a divine being who in- 
carnated himself in order to live and die as a man."* 
Perhaps the author, who has in other respects given 
evidence of great perspicacity, would no longer sub- 
scribe to this text today. But it is still in circulation, and 
most attempts to compare Christ with the Teacher of 
Righteousness are based on it. 

It is quite true that the Midrash speaks of trials and 
corporal punishments. But this does not entail the spe- 
cific description of one being tortured and put to death. 
Hence, use of the word "Passion" here is incorrect. In 
addition, Dupont-Sommer speaks of an incarnated di- 
vine being, basing his opinion solely on the expression 
"body of his flesh," as if this meant that the person who 
is the victim of this ill-treatment has assumed a carnal 
body because he is a being of a different nature. Now 
the expression "body of his flesh" simply designates 
the animal part of man. Ecclesiasticus writes: "The 
debauched man finds no peace in the body of his flesh." 

Given the lacuna in the text, it must be added that 
it is not even certain that this passage refers to the 
Teacher of Righteousness. It might apply to the 
"wicked priest" who behaved badly towards the 
Teacher of Righteousness, here called the Elect. This is 
why he has been punished by God, as we are told at 
the end of the passage. But even if the text does refer 
to the Teacher of Righteousness, it is impossible to see 

*Apergus prgUminaires sur les manuscrUs de la mer Morte, p. 47. 


more in this than the fact that he was the victim of 
cruel corporal punishments. Now since it is the only 
text on which die idea that the Teacher of Righteous- 
ness was a divine being and that he underwent a Pas- 
sion is based, it must be said that these two features 
must be totally eliminated from the person of the 
Teacher of Righteousness. 

The same can be said for a second passage of the 
Midrash where, in connection with the verse (2:15) in 
the prophecy of Habakkuk: "Woe to him that giveth 
drink to his friend, and presenteth him gall, and maketh 
him drunk, that he may behold his nakedness," one 
may read the following comment: "This refers to the 
wicked priest, who persecuted the Teacher of Right- 
eousness, in order to confuse him by a show of his ill- 
temper, desiring to exile him; on their day of rest, the 
day of Atonement, he appeared among them in order 
to confuse them and to trip them up, this on the day 
of their fasting, on the day of their sabbatical rest" (XI, 
4-8 ) . The text presents a number of difficulties. It deals 
throughout with the persecution of the Teacher of 
Righteousness by the wicked priest. But here the word 
gliothw occurs which can be translated either as "to 
strip" or "to exile/* The second meaning has been 
adopted by Millar Burrows, Kuhn, and Allegro, and it 
seems preferable. It excludes the putting to death of 
the Teacher of Righteousness. As Millar Burrows has 
noted, the wicked priest wanted above all to reduce 
him to silence. 

But the second part is the .most interesting. Dupont- 

The Teacher of Righteousness 63 

Sommer translates it as a glorious apparition of the 
Teacher of Righteousness after his death: "Thus the 
Teacher of Righteousness, shining with a divine light, 
himself punishes the criminal city." 5 But we have al- 
ready said that it does not appear that the Teacher of 
Righteousness was put to death. The "divine light" is 
a possible interpretation of the verb yp which means 
"to appear"; but this can also designate any "manifes- 
tation" whatsoever, and in itself it does not entail the 
idea of supernatural glory. 6 Again, we would like to 
emphasize that this is not the issue. The real question 
is to know whether the personage who thus manifests 
himself is indeed the Teacher of Righteousness. Now 
the subject of the preceding sentence is the wicked 
priest. It would be much more natural to infer, there- 
fore, that it is still he who is being discussed. 

But there is something even more striking. This pas- 
sage is a commentary on a verse in Habakkuk, a male- 
diction against 'Turn that giveth drink to his friend." 
Clearly the commentary must be in line with the mean- 
ing of the text which is being commented upon. "Those 
who trip up" are the equivalent of "those who get 
drunk." Thus, he who causes others to stumble or trip 
up is the object of a malediction. This naturally ex- 
cludes the Teacher of Righteousness. Millar Burrows 
is certain therefore that the passage refers to the 
wicked priest's surprise interruption of the Feast of 
Atonement being celebrated by the Teacher of Right- 

G Ibid, p. 55. 

6 See M. DELCOB, Essai sur le Midrash rfHdbacuc, pp. 36-37. 


eousness and his followers (undoubtedly on a different 
day than that celebrated by the official community) 
among whom he created a disturbance. 

Thus one can see that all that the Habakkuk Com- 
mentary tells us with any certainty about the Teacher 
of Righteousness finally leads back to certain of his 
characteristics, remarkable in themselves to be sure. 
We are dealing with a priest who has received a revela- 
tion from God concerning the significance of the pro- 
phecies and their actual realization. This priest encoun- 
tered faith among some people, but incredulity among 
many others. He had been persecuted, perhaps sum- 
moned before a court, and maltreated. There is noth- 
ing to prove that he was put to death; more probably 
he had been exiled. We can say, along with Cullman, 
that "he stands in the great line of prophets who have 
suffered for the proclamation of their message/' 7 He is 
perhaps one of those about whom Christ spoke when He 
accused the Pharisees of His time of being the sons of 
those who persecuted the prophets (Matthew 22:32). 

We must ask ourselves now whether the other docu- 
ments may not bring forth some other facts. In the first 
place we have found, in the fragments that are in the 
process of being identified, midrashin of prophets sim- 
ilar to that of tiie Book of Habakkvk. A fragment of 
the midrash of Micah has been published by J. T. Milik 
( Qumran cave, I, pp. 75-80 ) in which one reads : " [The 
explanation of this] concerns the Teacher of Right- 

significance of the Qumran texts for the beginners of 
Christianity," JBL, LXXIV ( 1955), p. 225. 


Common room and large refectory. 

V; Vt 

^.;-.;' ! :;;l-L: 


I he pantry which contained over one thousand smatt dishes, 
neatly stacked in piles along the watts. 

The Teacher of Righteousness 65 

eousness who is he who [expounds the law to] his 
[Council] and to all those who offer themselves to be 
enlisted among the elect of [God, practicing the law] in 
the Council of the community, and who will be saved 
on the Day [of Judgment]/' The preceding sentence 
contained an allusion to the prophet of falsehood. I shall 
discuss the midrashin of Joshua and Nahum, published 
by Allegro, later. 8 Finally, there is a midrash on the 
37th Psalm which speaks of "The Teacher of [Right- 
eousness]," appointed by God, "in order to build a 
community of His elect for Him/' 9 

We are on more solid ground with the Damascus 
Document, of which we now possess many copies; be- 
cause the Qumran caves have yielded up fragments 
which have confirmed the hypothesis that the work 
belonged to our sect. In column 1 we read: "God ob- 
served their works and He caused to rise among them 
a Teacher of Righteousness in order to lead them along 
the way of His heart." The passage is important for 
fixing the date of the Teacher of Righteousness. For our 
purposes it confirms what we have seen of his mission 
by adding the fact that he no longer appears only as an 
inspired exegete, but as a guide pointing out a new way. 
This may suggest that, if not the redactor of the Manual 
of Discipline, the Teacher of Righteousness is at least 
its inspirer. 

8 "Further light on the history of the Qumran Sect," /BL, LXXV 
(1956), pp. 89-96. 

^Edited by AIXEGRO. "A newly discovered fragment of a com- 
mentary of Psalm XXXVH from Qumran/' PEQ, LXXXVL (1954) 
pp. 71-72. 


Without doubt it is also the Teacher of Righteous- 
ness who is alluded to later in connection with those 
who "listen to the voice of the Teacher of Righteous- 
ness and confess before God: We have sinned" and 
"who lend their ears to the voice of a Teacher of Right- 
eousness and who do not reject righteous ordinances 
when they hear them" (XX, 28 and 32). It will be 
noticed, however, that the Teacher of Righteousness 
is not specifically referred to in the second sentence. 
One may question whether reference is being made to 
the Prophet of whom the Habakkuk Commentary 
speaks or to learned men belonging to the sect. As a 
matter of fact the Damascus Document describes the 
situation of the community as it was after the redaction 
of the Habakkuk Commentary. Insofar as one can in- 
terpret the given facts, it seems very clear that after the 
events described in the Midrash, that is, the persecu- 
tions of the Teacher of Righteousness by the wicked 
priest, the community was exiled to Damascus. The 
Teacher of Righteousness undoubtedly accompanied 
them there, but he must have already been dead at the 
time the document was drawn up. If he is the one 
discussed in our texts this is so only insofar as his teach- 
ing was preserved in the community. 

This is confirmed by other passages in the Damascus 
or Zadoktie Document: "All those who entered into 
the new Covenant in the land of Damascus, but who 
went astray and cut themselves off from the well of 
living waters, will no longer be counted in the As- 
sembly of the people and they will not be inscribed in 

The Teacher of Righteousness 67 

its register from the day of the disappearance of the 
Unique Teacher until that day when the Messiah of 
Aaron and of Israel shall rise" (XIX, 33-XX, 1). The 
Unique Teacher referred to here is probably the 
Teacher of Righteousness. There is no mention of when 
he died, whether before the departure for Damascus or 
afterwards. But he died around the time the document 
was drawn up. There is, moreover, a specific reference 
to this later: "Forty years will elapse from the day of 
the disappearance of the Unique Teacher until the 
day of annihilation of the men of war who returned 
with the man of falsehood" (XX, 13-15). 

It will be noted that in the text we have cited there 
is an allusion to the "Messiah of Aaron and of Israel." 
This is not the place to discuss the question whether 
we are here dealing with a single personage or two 
Messiahs, one a priest and the other a layman. But 
according to our text it is evident that these Messiahs 
are being waited for by the community. This text, 
therefore, is decisive proof that the community did not 
recognize the Teacher of Righteousness as the Messiah. 
In the eyes of the community, the ministry of the 
Teacher of Righteousness marked the beginning of the 
last days. But these beginnings were only the last stage 
preceding the coming of the Messiah or Messiahs. 

There is another passage in the Damascus Document 
which some scholars consider to be an allusion to the 
Teacher of Righteousness: "The star refers to the in- 
terpreter of the Law who came to Damascus, as it is 
written: A star shall rise out of Jacob and a sceptre shall 


spring up from Israel. The sceptre is the prince of the 
congregation, and when he shall rise he shall destroy 
all the sons of Seth. These escaped at the time of the 
first visitation" (XII, 18-21) but "when the Messiah 
of Aaron and Israel will come . . . the remainder will be 
delivered to the sword which carries out the vengeance 
of the Covenant" (XIX, 10-13). 

But who is this interpreter of the Law, to whom is 
the prophecy of the "star" applied (Num. 24:17)? Is it 
the Teacher of Righteousness? Everything depends 
upon the establishment of the date of his death. Such 
an identification cannot possibly be made by scholars 
who think that the Teacher of Righteousness was put to 
death by the wicked priest in 63 B. C. It must be rec- 
ognized that we are dealing with another personage 
who must have been the leader of the community dur- 
ing its exile in Damascus. It is to him that another pas- 
sage may allude: "The well is the Law; those who dug 
it are those of Israel who went to sojourn in the land 
of Damascus. The stave (Lawgiver) refers to him 
who studies the Law" (VI, 4-7). Only because the 
Teacher of Righteousness was not put to death could 
one apply the prophecy to him. But in every way the 
personage who is called "the star" is expressly distin- 
guished from the Messiah of Aaron and Israel, and 
from the "sceptre" that will pronounce judgment upon 
the nations and that is expected in the future. 

The texts that we have just cited are the essential 
passages in which the Teacher of Righteousness is ex- 
plicitly in question. Nevertheless, some are of the opin- 

The Teacher of Righteousness 69 

ion that they have come upon allusions to his person 
and to his mission elsewhere. This raises the question of 
the interpretation of the Book of Hymns, or Psalms of 
Thanksgiving, the Hodayot. These constitute perhaps 
the brightest jewel among the discoveries of Qumran. 
They are admirable psalms, comparable to some of 
those in the Old Testament. Their structure is similar, 
as Mowinckel has shown. 10 The ensemble is a hymn of 
thanksgiving to Jehovah for having escaped from a great 
danger. It is possible, as Bo Reicke has suggested in a 
still unpublished lecture, that these are liturgical texts 
used during the meetings of the community, at which, 
according to Josephus, hymns were sung. This, how- 
ever, does not exclude the possibility, demonstrated by 
Mowinckel, that they may be personal compositions, 
relating to particular experiences like certain of the 
psalms of David. 

The question then arises as to whether we can at- 
tribute them to a particular author. Here, certainly, 
sheer conjecture plays a great role. 

It is possible that there were several authors and that 
the collection covers a long period of time. Neverthe- 
less, there is a great similarity throughout in style, 
thought and feeling. Moreover, the importance at- 
tached to these psalms by the community is attested by 
the fact that one of the hymns, indeed one of the most 
beautiful, was placed as an annex at the end of the 
Manual of Discipline. Finally, the circumstances they 

10 "Some remarks on Hodayot 39, 5-20," JBL, LXXXV, (1956) , pp. 


describe correspond exactly with the trials undergone 
by the Teacher of Righteousness, but only on the con- 
dition of admitting that he was not put to death and 
that he composed the hymns during his exile in Damas- 
cus. This question was first posed by Sukenik, taken up 
by Mowinckel, 11 and discussed most recently by Henri 
Michaud. 12 Given the actual state of affairs, it is far 
from being settled. However, the probabilities in favor 
of attributing them to the Teacher of Righteousness are 
at least sufficient to consider these hymns as an expres- 
sion of his thought. 

If this be so, several important conclusions are per- 
missible. First of all the Hodayot confirm what the 
other texts say about the life of the Teacher of Right- 
eousness, which makes their attribution to him even 
more probable. He had received a mission from God, 
he had run into opposition, he had been reduced to ex- 
treme desperation, but God had delivered him. This is 
what is shown in column II, 8-19. If these events are 
really those mentioned in the Midrash, then it must be 
concluded that he was not put to death a conclusion 
that is confirmed by the fact that an exile is here in 

As has been admirably analyzed by Henri Michaud, 
the most profitable aspect o the Hodayot is that they 
introduce us to the soul of the Teacher of Righteousness. 
Several characteristics will be noticed. The first one is 

12 **Le maitre de la Justice cTapr&s les Hymnes de Qumran," Bull. 
Fac. Thed. Prat. Paris, XIX ( 1956) , pp. 67-77. 

The Teacher of Righteousness 71 

the deep humility of the Psalmist. He is aware that he is 
a sinner. Thus in column I, 22-24, the author declares 
himself to be "a sink of iniquity, a carcass of sin, a prin- 
ciple of waywardness, perverted, and without under- 
standing." And in column IV, 35-37, he writes: "I re- 
member all my faults and also my infidelities to my 
fathers. Then I said to myself: Because of my sins I am 
cut off from Thy Covenant. But upon remembering the 
power of Thy hand and the abundance of Thy mercies, 
I rose again." We shall discuss the importance of this 
characteristic later. 

Also admirable is what Michaud calls "his sense of 
the creaturely condition" and of his nothingness before 
God. Here the texts recall Job: "Thou hast assigned to 
man an eternal destiny with the spirits of knowledge, 
so that Thy name may be praised in joyous song. But I 
who am made of clay, what am I? A thing kneaded of 
water, what is my worth?" ( col. Ill, 22-23 ) . 

The same accents can be found in the final psalm of 
the Manual of Discipline which seems to have been 
written by the same author. Of special note here is the 
author's deep-seated feeling that he possesses naught 
of his own and that his eternal destiny depends solely 
upon the grace of God. 

In fact, a final characteristic of the author is his sense 
of the unique majesty that is God's alone. For this rea- 
son it has been said that he was a deeply religious be- 
ing, a great mystic. He attributes all glory to God. 
"Outside of Thee nothing is wrought; nothing is known 
outside Thy will. For there is no other person beside 


Thee, none whose power rivals Thine" (col. X, 10-11). 
His delight is to praise God untiringly, a praise from 
his lips which marks the time of day and all the seasons 
of the year: "I wish to praise Thy name among those 
who fear Thee, by my hymns and psalms of thanksgiv- 
ing and by my prayers, when daylight first emerges 
from its abodes, and during its daily orderly course 
through its appointed rounds and in the evening when 
begins the reign of darkness" (col, VIII, 4-6). This 
sanctification of time was to remain one of the most 
characteristic features of the Qumran community. 

The Zadokite Use of the 
Messianic Prophecies 

The Hodayot also pose a final problem that is not pe- 
culiar to them, namely the application of Messianic 
terms or texts to the Teacher of Righteousness. In order 
to be correctly posed, this problem must be viewed in 
relation to the whole collection of Messianic themes 
found in the documents. Now, on the basis of what we 
have seen until now, two points emerge quite clearly. 

First, one of the most remarkable characteristics of 
the community is the general application of prophetic 
and singularly Messianic texts to its own history. This, 
as has been said, attests to the fact that the community 
considered itself as belonging to the last days. And we 
Lave also noted the use made of Messianic texts such 
as that in Isaias 27:16, on the cornerstone, or in Num. 
24:17, on the star. 

The Teacher of Righteousness 73 

A second characteristic appears to be equally cer- 
tain: the community lived in expectation of the coming 
of the Messiah. We have pointed out the testimony to 
this waiting in the Damascus Document where it is a 
question of the coming of "The Messiah of Aaron and 
of Israel" ( CDC, XX, 1 ) . But this is also to be found in 
the Manual of Discipline: "They must conform to the 
ancient ordinances, by which the men of the commu- 
nity have begun to correct themselves, until the coming 
of a prophet and the Messiahs of Aaron and of Israel" 
(IX, 10-11). One of the most important fragments 
discovered in Cave 1 describes the meals of the com- 
munity "when God will beget the Messiah/' 12 Here 
again it is a question of both a priestly and a lay Mes- 
siah. A fragment found in Cave 4 speaks of waiting for 
the "Messiah of Justice" who is "the scion of David/* 

How then does the problem pose itself with respect 
to the Teacher of Righteousness? It is clear that he is 
not the Messiah, who is still expected. But on the other 
hand certain Messianic texts are considered to have 
been fulfilled. May it not be maintained then that the 
future Messiah will be a re-appearance or a return of 
the Teacher of Righteousness? We may ask ourselves 
whether this hypothesis is not the projection in the 
Qumran texts of the Christian doctrine of the two 
Parousias. Yet, many expressions can at one and the 
same time either designate a historical personage or be 
applied to the Messiah. Clearly the attribution of Mes- 

IS Qumran Cave I, p. 117. See R. GORDIS, "The begotten Messiah 
in the Qumran Scrolls," VT, VII (1957), pp. 191-194. 


sianic texts would be a fact of great importance. But is 
this really so? To answer this question we must take a 
look at the texts. 

Allegro bases his opinion on a small fragment of the 
Midrash of Joshua in which the "Lion of Wrath" and 
the "Last Priest" are in question in the same context. 
Allegro reasons as follows: If the "Lion of Wrath" is 
the wicked priest and if it is he who is in question in 
an eschatological context, this means to say that the 
"Lion of Wrath" will come in the last days. Hence the 
"Last Priest" is also the Teacher of Righteousness, re- 
turning for the last days. 14 But this is only a tissue of 
hypotheses. Perhaps the "Lion of Wrath" is the wicked 
priest, 15 but it is evident neither that the "Last Priest" 
is the Teacher of Righteousness nor that the "Lion of 
Wrath" must return in the last days. Nothing really can 
be inferred from this fragment which, moreover, is in a 
mutilated state. 

Other scholars insist on the fact that the same ex- 
pressions designate the Teacher of Righteousness and 
the expected Messiah. In a passage of the Damascus 
Document,, as translated by A. Dupont-Sommer, the 
Messiah is designated as <f he who will teach righteous- 
ness (yoreh hassedeq] in the last days" (VI, 11). But 
what is indeed curious here is that the author avoids 
using the expression "Teacher of Righteousness" (more 

**The Dead Sea ScroUs, pp. 148-149, 

15 This identification which Allegro draws from the Ndhum Com- 
mentary has been challenged by Rowley, **4 Qp, Nahum and the 
Teacher of Righteousness," JBL LXXV (1956), pp. 188-193. 

The Teacher of Righteousness 75 

hassedeq] which is never applied to the Messiah. On 
the other hand the expression "anointed" does not seem 
to be applied to the Teacher of Righteousness. And yet 
in other respects it is repeatedly applied to diverse 
personages in the history of Israel. In A. Dupont-Som- 
mer's translation of the Damascus Document it partic- 
ularly so designates Zadok, the high priest, twice 
(CDC, II, 12; VI, I). 16 Thus the Teacher of Righteous- 
ness could very well be called "the Anointed" without 
thereby being identified as the Messiah. And it is no 
less true that the fact that the expression is never applied 
to him might indicate a desire to avoid any confusion 
between him and the expected Messiah. 

We encounter a completely parallel situation in con- 
nection with the use of the word "Prophet/' The term 
can designate the eschatological Messiah referred to 
in Deut. 18:18: "I will raise them up a prophet out of 
the midst of their brethren like to thee." This text 
forms part of the Testimonia of Qumran (4 QT ) . It has 
been published by Allegro and seems to refer to the 
Messiah of the last days in DSD, IX, II. 17 It likewise 
forms part of the Testimonia of the New Testament 
where it is applied on four occasions to Christ (Acts. 
3:22; 7:37; John 1:21; 7:40). It is also frequently ap- 
plied to Christ by a Judeo-Christian sect composed of 
converted Essenes, the Ebionites, whom we shall dis- 
cuss later ( Rec. clement; 1, 36, 43, 56; Horn, clement III, 

"See also DSW, XI-7; DSD, 11-12. 

17 "Further Messianic References in Qumran Literature," JBL 
(1956), pp. 182-183. 


53) . It is never applied, for that matter, to the Teacher 
of Righteousness in the Qumran texts, which seems to 
be due to the same desire to avoid any ambiguity. This 
is even more remarkable in that another personage, 
Dositheus, not without relations with Essenism, albeit 
of a doubtful kind, does not hesitate to apply the pas- 
sage from Deuteronomy to himself and thereby pass 
himself off as the Messiah (ORIGEN, Contra Celese, 1, 
57). The Teacher of Righteousness seems to be more 
like John the Baptist, who, in answer to the question, 
"Are you the Prophet?" answered, "No" (John 1:21). 18 

Another expression is that of the "Elect." The 
Teacher of Righteousness is so designated in the 
Habakkuk Commentary (DSH, IX, 12) . Now the word 
can have a Messianic meaning as in Isaias 42:1: "Be- 
hold my servant, I will uphold him: my elect, my soul 
delighteth in him/* It is applied twice to Christ in the 
New Testament (Luke 23:15; I Peter 4:2). But in the 
Old Testament it at first designates any man who has 
been chosen to carry out a particular mission, such as 
Joshua or Moses. Thus the mere use of the word is not 
sufficient to designate a Messiah. And, for that matter, 
it is not at all certain that the word is applied to a Mes- 
siah in the Qumran documents. 

In fact the only text that can be invoked here is the 
Habakkuk Commentary., 12-13: "These words mean 
that God will not destroy His people by the hand of 

18 Ra this comparison between the Teacher of Righteousness and 
John the Baptist, see BROWNUEE, John the Baptist in the light of 
the ancient scrolls, Interpretation, IX (1955), pp. 78-86. 

The Teacher of Righteousness 77 

the nations, but will place the execution of the judg- 
ment of all nations and peoples in the hands of His 
Elect" (V, 3-4). The translation I give is A. Dupont- 
Sommer's. He comments that "the final judgment will be 
executed by the Elect of God, that is to say by the 
Teacher of Righteousness." But this interpretation runs 
directly into textual difficulties. It should not be read in 
the singular, but without doubt only in the plural. 
Further down in the same passage, (X, 13) the expres- 
sion "the elects of God" is clearly plural in meaning. 
Here we would be in the possession of an important 
doctrine, that of the participation of the saints in the 
Judgment, which we will come upon again in the New 
Testament. Thus it is highly improbable that the Mes- 
siah is meant in this particular text. 

The question rises in a similar fashion with respect 
to the Messianic prophecies. The Qumran documents 
make much use of them, but in a surprising way and 
without particular reference to the Teacher of Right- 
eousness. We have already come upon Numbers 24:17, 
where the star is in question. In the Damascus Docu- 
ment, as we have seen, it can be applied to the Teacher 
of Righteousness if he had been at Damascus; but if 
we follow A. Dupont-Somme/s chronology, it desig- 
nates his successor instead. We find it again in DSW, 
XI, 6. Now here it designates King David; and, as we 
know, it will be applied later to the Zealot chieftain, Bar 
Kokeba, "the son of the star." The expression "Inter- 
preter of the Law" presents an analogous case. Al- 
though there is nothing Messianic about the expression 


itself, it seems to apply to the Messiah: 4 QT. 19 Now in 
the Damascus Document it is applied to the leader of 
the community in the country of Damascus. 

The Hodayot make much use of the Messianic 
prophecies of Isaias. In column III, 7-10 there is a de- 
scription of the sufferings of a woman who brings forth 
"a male child" "an admirable counsellor in all his al- 
mighty power." This is probably an allusion to Isaias 
9:6, as Brownlee, Black, 20 and Dupont-Sommer have 
noted. 21 and here it is definitely a question o the Mes- 
siah. But this Messiah is yet to come. The author of 
the Psalm identifies himself with the woman, who is the 
community and not the Mother of the Messiah. Mowin- 
ckel 22 has been very specific on this point. The psalmist 
in no sense identifies himself with "an admirable coun- 
sellor in all his almighty power." It is interesting to 
compare the text with Apoc. 12:4, and John 16:21. 

Other prophecies of Isaias are applied to the commu- 
nity. This appears to have been a common practice. 
Such is the case with the celebrated passage from Isaias 
11: 1, on "a rod out of the root of Jesse." It would seem 
that column VIII, 7 clearly alludes to it. 23 The most 
striking case is that of Isaias 28: 16. The Manual of Dis- 

19 AEegro, "Messianic References," p. 176. 

^Messianic Doctrines in the Qumran Scrolls," Stud. Patrist., 
H( 1957), p. 449, 

21 **La Mere du Messie et la Mere de Faspic dans un hymne de 
Qumran," RHR, CXLVH ( 1955) , pp. 174-188. 

22 "Some Remarks on Hodayot, 39, 5-20," JBL, LXXV (1956) p. 

23 See G. VERMES, "Quelques traditions de Qumran," Cahiers 
Sioniens, p. 54. 

The Teacher of Righteousness 79 

cipline (VIII, 7) applies it to the community, while 
Christ applies it to His Person. In column XVIII, 14 
the author of the Hodayot describes himself with fea- 
tures borrowed from Isaias: God has sent him to bring 
"cheer to the humble" ( Isaias 61 : 1 ) . But this same pas- 
sage from Isaias serves to describe the duties of the 
mebaqquer, or overseer (CDC, XIII, 10 ). 24 Brownlee, 
therefore, is right in not seeing any specific Messianic 
purpose therein. 25 

A curious case is presented by the passage from 
Zach. 13:7: "Strike the shepherd, and the sheep shall 
be scattered." We know that Christ applied this text to 
Himself (Mark 14:27). It is cited in the Damascus 
Document (as translated by A. Dupont-Sommer, XIX, 
7-9 ) where once again we can note its particular links 
with the New Testament in this area. But in this text 
the shepherd designates the infidel leaders of Israel 
who will be punished by the judgment of God. This 
completes the task of showing the extreme liberties 
that the Zadokites took with Messianic prophecies. Or 
rather, that which appears constant and which in effect 
constitutes their essential idea, is the application of the 
texts to the community. But these texts have no partic- 
ular link with the Teacher of Righteousness. This will 
constitute an essential difference with respect to the in- 
terpretation of these same texts in the New Testament. 

24 "The Servant of the Lord in the Qumran Scrolls," BASOH, 
CXXXV ( 1954) , pp. 33-38. 

25 Bo REICKE, The Jewish Damascus Document and the New 
Testament, p. 17. 


A final question is then posed. We possess, in addi- 
tion to the Qumran documents, numerous texts that are 
connected with the Judaism of the time of Christ: the 
Book of Jubilees, the First Book of Enoch and the 
Psalms of Solomon. Points of contact have been estab- 
lished between these works and the doctrines of Qum- 
ran. Better still, fragments of the first two mentioned 
works have also been found there. Without emanating 
from the group itself, since they were older than it, 
these works were adopted by the monks of Qumran. 
Now another text, preserved in Greek with Aramaic 
fragments, entitled The Testaments of the Twelve 
Patriarchs has been compared to these works. It is 
certain that there are similarities between this text and 
the Qumran scrolls. 

Among the Testaments there is the Testament of 
Levi which contains a remarkable description of the 
Messiah: "Then the Lord will cause a new priest to 
rise, to whom all the words of the Lord will be revealed. 
He will execute a judgment of truth on the earth for a 
multitude of days. And his star will rise in the sky like 
that of a king. Under his priesthood sin will disappear" 
(XVIII, 1-16). A. Dupont-Sommer has attached great 
importance to this text: "Let me say at once: it seems to 
me that this new priest ... is the Teacher of Righteous- 
ness himself. . , /'After his earthly career, after his igno- 
minious death, is now to be seen translated to an es- 
chatological plane, invested with full Messianic glory, 
and enthroned as chief of the new universe, "Saviour 
of the World . . . eternal Priest." 26 

2 *The Jetoish Sect of Qumran and the Essenes, pp. 51-52. 

The Teacher of Righteousness 81 

In the first place it must be objected that nothing 
authorizes us to see the Teacher of Righteousness in 
the personage announced for the last days, Priest or 
King; the Teacher of Righteousness is a personage of 
the past and has never passed himself off as a Messiah. 
It was his disciples, according to A. Dupont-Sommer, 
who made of him a Messiah. This interests us indeed 
because it is a recognition that he himself never repre- 
sented himself as such. But nothing permits us to as- 
sert that the expected personage is a manifestation of 
the Teacher of Righteousness. On the contrary, we 
have seen that all the documents make a clear and ex- 
press distinction between him and the Messiah, 

But there is still more. The argument put forth by A. 
Dupont-Sommer is based on the supposition that the 
text is Essenian or that it stems from the Essenian 
period. It would have been interesting to know 
whether any fragments of it were found at Qumran. 
Two years after the publication of A. Dupont-Sommer's 
book in 1955, M. Milik, one of the leading archeologists 
presently working in Jerusalem, published in the Revue 
Biblique fragments of a Testament of Levi that had 
been found at Qumran. Now these fragments have 
nothing in common with the Testament of Levi of the 
Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. The fact that it 
has been impossible to discover such fragments "prac- 
tically excludes," says Milik, "the pre-Christian or 
Palestinian origin of the apocrypha. Everything leads 
to the belief that the Testaments are a Judeo-Christian 
work that made great use of extant Jewish writings'* 
(KB., 1955, pp. 405-410). This hypothesis, which has 


always been maintained, has been confirmed anew by 
a book written by Jonge. 27 Hence it is quite definitely a 
Christian work in which the description of the Messiah 
contains unique and distinctive Christian features. 

The Grandeur and Limits of the 
Teacher of Righteousness 

At last we are at the end of our long inquiry. This was 
necessary in order to establish all the points at issue. 
All that remains now is to draw conclusions. In the first 
place, the Teacher of Righteousness appears to us as a 
truly admirable religious figure. And undoubtedly one 
of the most sensational discoveries of Qumran is the 
revelation of the existence of one of the great religious 
figures in the history of humanity. Not only is our 
curiosity satisfied, but humanity is enriched thereby. 
The completion of the publication of the discovered 
documents will allow us to obtain a fuller view and a 
more precise picture of his character. 

Very little is known of his life, and it is difficult to fix 
exact dates. We know that he came from a circle of 
faithful priests, that a revelation was made to him, and 
that he ran into violent opposition, that he was mal- 
treated, and that he was eventually sent into exile. He 
has, without doubt, left behind hymns in which he 
gave expression to his religious experience. He seems 
to have died in a normal way. It is nowhere claimed 

^The Testaments of the XII Patriarchs ( 1953) . 

The Teacher of Righteousness 83 

that he appeared to his disciples after his death. He 
was never the object of a cult. It is nowhere claimed 
that his return was expected in the last days. It even 
seems as if he fell into an oblivion of sorts. He had suc- 
cessors who were the leaders of the community which 
he had founded and which, at the time of Christ, did 
assume a monastic character. 

Two things about the Teacher of Righteousness are 
remarkable. The first is the depth of his religious ex- 
perience, his deep humility before God, his painful 
sense of sin, his admirable confidence in God, his ex- 
perience of grace, and his acts of grace. But all these 
attributes would make of him only a great religious 
figure.There is a second thing even more extraordinary. 
A revelation was made known to him concerning the 
fact that the last days proclaimed by the prophets had 
arrived and that the Messiah was near. He inaugurated 
a new exegesis of Scripture. Now what is amazing is 
that this prophecy was verified exactly. Thus between 
the great prophets of the Old Testament and John the 
Baptist he emerges as a new link in the preparation for 
the Advent of Christ: he is, as Michaud writes, one of 
the great figures of Israel's prophetic tradition. It is 
amazing that he remained so unknown for so long. Now 
that he is known the question arises as to what we are 
to do about this knowledge. It is a question that is 
posed to the Jews: this great Jew announced the im- 
minent coming of the Messiah some dozens of years 
before the birth of Christ. Furthermore, the question 
is put to Christians: how to contest the authenticity of 


such a message which they claim has been fulfilled? 
Why does not this message, then, form part of inspired 
Scripture? This is the true mystery of the Teacher of 

But the greater he appears to us when we consider 
him as a personage in himself, the greater the differ- 
ences that blazon forth when we compare him to 
Christ. Undoubtedly there are certain similarities: 
both had been persecuted by the high priests but this 
was the common fate of many prophets. Resemblances 
can even be found in their vocabularies: but it is a 
question of expressions that reflect the religious idiom 
of the time. On the contrary, differences are immedi- 
ately noticeable on the most outward plane. A. Dupont- 
Sommer has pointed them out in his book on The 
Jewish Sect of Qumran and The Essenes: the Teacher 
of Righteousness is a priest, Jesus is "the Son of 
David;" the one is an esoteric teacher, the other a 
popular preacher; the one avoids all contact with 
sinners like a contagion, the other, on the contrary, lets 
them approach Him and welcomes them; finally, the 
scrupulous legalism of the one contrasts with the aston- 
ishing freedom of the other. 

It is on essentials that the differences blazon forth. 
I shall bring them together in my concluding pages. 
"No text," Millar Burrows has written, "allows us to 
assert that the Teacher of Righteousness be considered 
as the Messiah." What some have called the Messianism 
of the Quinran Scrolls has to do with the important 
place accorded by the documents to the waiting for the 

The Teacher of Righteousness 85 

advent, also viewed as imminent, of the Messiah. Now 
the fundamental assertion of the New Testament is not 
that the last days have begun, but that the event that 
will bring them to pass has been accomplished with 
the coming of Christ Who declares that He is the Mes- 
siah and that with Him the Kingdom of God has ar- 
rived, the Judgment fulfilled, the Resurrection present, 
and the gates of Heaven opened. 

In the second place another fundamental assertion 
of the New Testament is concerned with the death and 
the Resurrection of Christ. The good tidings is not that 
the Messiah is about to arrive, but that Christ is risen. 
Now it is almost certain that the Teacher of Righteous- 
ness did not suffer a violent death, and it is absolutely 
certain that it is nowhere claimed that he was resur- 
rected. Moreover, even should it be admitted that he 
was put to death, it is nowhere asserted that his death 
had a redemptive value. What matters with the 
Teacher of Righteousness is his message; with Christ, 
what matters is His work of salvation. 

In the third place, one of the most remarkable 
characteristics of the Teacher of Righteousness if we 
grant that he is the author of the Hodayoti$ his 
deeply-rooted sense of being a sinner and his desire for 
purification. In this he recalls the most beautiful Psalms 
of the Old Testament, in particular the Miserere. Now, 
as has already been observed, one of the most extra- 
ordinary characteristics of the person of Jesus Christ is 
that in Him one never finds the slightest feeling of be- 
ing a sinner. And this not only in explicit phrases: 


"Who among you will accuse Me of sin?" but in the 
very character of His behavior. If, moreover, the sense 
of sin is the distinctive trait of truly religious figures so 
that its absence is always suspect, its absence in Jesus, 
in whom everybody recognizes an incomparable reli- 
gious quality, is an extraordinary enigma. 

Fourthly^ another characteristic that we have 
pointed out in the Teacher of Righteousness is his con- 
sciousness of the infinite distance that separates him 
from God. Nothing else gives his words such a deep 
religious resonance. Now if there is one point that is 
certain in the story of Christ it is that He claimed divine 
prerogatives, not only by His words but by His entire 
behavior. Outside of this the Gospel is inexplicable. 
In fact it was because of such affirmations that He was 
accused of blasphemy and finally condemned. "Who 
except God alone can remit sins?" said the Pharisees, 
thereby testifying that in their eyes the action of Christ 
remitting sins was equivalent to claiming divine 
authority, a pretension which, being made by a man, 
was the greatest crime in the eyes of the Jews. It is the 
very opposite of the attitude of the Teacher of Right- 
eousness. Nothing more than this attests to the fact 
that Christ thereby asserted His divine nature. 

Lastly, not only is the first Christian community 
centered around the death and resurrection of Christ, 
as the fundamental event in all history, but it makes 
Christ the object of its cult by bestowing upon Him the 
divine title of Kyrios. Now in no wise can we see how 
the actions or person of the Teacher of Righteousness 

The Teacher of Righteousness 87 

might have had a similar status in the Essenian com- 
munity. Cullman has observed that Philo and Josephus 
were able to give a complete account of the Essenian 
doctrine without even mentioning the Teacher of 
Righteousness. One simply cannot imagine something 
like this with respect to the Christian faith. Moreover, 
the very idea of a cult dedicated to the Teacher of 
Righteousness in Qumran is highly improbable. He is 
but a prophet honored after his death. He is the sup- 
port, not the object, of faith. 

Such are the conclusions that emerge after a study 
of the facts. There is still the problem of the Teacher of 
Righteousness. But it is necessary to leave it where it 
is. It is extraordinary in itself. It consists of the dis- 
covery of a new link in the preparation of the coming of 
Christ. This will require mature reflection from exe- 
getes and theologians. But one falsifies the problem 
when one transposes it to the level that purports to 
establish an equivalence between the Teacher of Right- 
eousness and Christ. The Teacher of Righteousness is 
one of those who, before John the Baptist, prepared 
the coming of Christ. But like John the Baptist himself, 
even if he is very great among the sons of woman, the 
smallest child of the Kingdom of God is greater than he. 
This point having been established, it remains our task 
to study the multiple aspects of the Essenian influence 
on the authors of the New Testament and on the first 
ecclesiastical writers. 


The First Developments 
of the Church and the 
Community of Qumran 

A PRIORI, contacts between Christianity and Es- 
senism were historically and geographically pos- 
sible during the period following the period that we 
discussed earlier. We know as a matter of fact that the 
Zadokite community remained in Qumran up to 70 
A.D., as is proved by the coins uncovered there. Now 
the period from 35 A.D., to 70 A.D., is precisely the 
period of the first developments of Christianity. In 
Josephus, the historian, we have a particularly valuable 
contemporary witness of this period in the history of 
the Essenes. Josephus at one time was an Essene, as he 
himself testifies. He dedicated three important ac- 
counts to the community. Now one detail that he pro- 
vides is of great interest: namely, that outside of Qum- 
ran itself, many Essenes were scattered throughout 
Palestine. It was not necessary, therefore, to go to Qum- 
ran to find them. 

In 70 A.D., moreover, the Romans conquered 
Jerusalem and Palestine. Many Essenes were mas- 
sacred, according to Josephus ( Wars of the Jews., II, 8: 
10). It was at this time that the survivors hid their 
sacred books in the caves, where they have been only 



recently discovered, and then escaped. Where did they 
go? They had already been exiled to Damascus around 
60 B.C. It is therefore very probable that some of them 
went there in order to look for members of the commu- 
nity who had remained in Damascus. But it is possible 
that they also went to other places: the Hymns seem to 
say that the Teacher of Righteousness had gone to 
Egypt; and Philo, during this Christian era, had known 
some monks in Egypt, the Therapeutes, who have 
many points in common with the Essenes. It is quite 
possible, therefore, that some found refuge there. 

Thus it seems that before 70 A.D., and above all after 
that date, there were Essenes in Syria, Egypt and 
doubtless even in Asia Minor. These were the very re- 
gions where the Christian missions developed, concen- 
trating especially on Jewish circles. Information about 
primitive Christianity in Egypt is scattered; but it is 
known that Paul was in Damascus and in Asia Minor, 
and John in Asia Minor. During the period that in- 
terests us today, contact between Essenes and Chris- 
tians could have taken place not only in Palestine but 
elsewhere. This was quite probable both geographic- 
ally and historically. A study of the available facts 
shows this to be certain beyond doubt. And it is equally 
beyond doubt that, during this time, the contacts were 
closer and the Essenian influences more striking. 

Early Development of the Church 93 

Essenes and Hellenists 

The first disciples of Christ, in particular the Apostles, 
were not Essenes. The only one in connection with 
whom such a question might arise is the Apostle John; 
he might have had some contact with Essenes before 
becoming a disciple of John the Baptist. The others 
came from a totally different social group: Gallileans 
in the main, they did not belong to priestly families. 
Peter was married his mother-in-law was healed by 
Jesus and James was a cousin of Jesus about whom, we 
have said, there was nothing Essenian. Among the Jew- 
ish groups of that time the one to which they probably 
belonged was that of the Zealots, Jewish messianists, 
who to a great extent were recruited among the com- 
mon people of Gallilee. Cullman has observed that 
Judas Iscariot doubtless means Judas the brave, the 
resistance fighter. 1 This may also be true of Peter and of 
his brother Andrew. 

But were there not any Essenes who were converted 
later? We can be certain of this, even though it is dif- 
ficult to identify them. In chapter six of the Acts of the 
Apostles we learn that a great company of priests had 
been converted. These priests constitute a group 
known as the Hellenists. The meaning of the term has 
given rise to a polemical discussion. Were they Jews 
who spoke Greek? Cullman thinks that it was their 
way of life rather which distinguished them from other 

^Christ et C6$ar, pp. 18-19. 


Hebrews. 2 But all this remains very strange. Later 
Justin, when enumerating the Jewish sects, will speak 
of Sadducees, Helleniens, Pharisees and Baptists (Dial. 
LXXX, 4). Certainly, the Essenes who are in question 
were a purely Jewish sect. 3 Now the absence of the Es- 
senes in this list leads one to ask whether the Essenes 
may not be those designated as Helleniens. On the 
other hand there is a temptation to compare these Hel- 
leniens with the Hellenists mentioned in the Acts. This 
constitutes a primary argument in favor of viewing the 
latter as Essenes. 

Is it possible for us to know something about these 
converted priests? The answer is yes because there is 
one of them who is particularly famous: the deacon 
Stephen whose long defense speech is contained in 
Acts 7:1-53. This speech, as Cullman has pointed out, 
presents startling similarities with one of the Essenian 
manuscripts, the Damascus Document. The theme of 
this speech is to show that the Jews have not ceased to 
be infidels, despite the prophets whom God had sent 
to them. This is also the theme of an exhortation in the 
Damascus Document (II, 14, III, 12). But there is 
something even more specific. Stephen says that an 
angel appeared to Moses, established him as a leader of 
his people and ministered to him (Acts 7:30-36). Now 
the Damascus Document also says that Moses received 
his authority from an angel (V, 18). Stephen cites a 

2 "The significance of the Qumran texts for research into the 
beginnings of Christianity," JBL, LXXIV (1955), pp. 220-221. 

*See M. SIMON, "Les sects juives chez les P&res de rEglise," Stud. 
Pair. (1957), H, pp. 535-537. 

Early Development of the Church 95 

very strange text of Amos: "And you took unto you the 
tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Rem- 
phan" ( Acts 7:43 ). This text is also cited by the Damas- 
cus Document (VI, 14-15). Finally Stephen tells of the 
persecutions of the Jews directed against those who 
prophesied "the coming of the Just One" (Acts 7:52). 
Here one may ask whether he is not dealing with the 
persecutions suffered by the Teacher of Righteousness. 
If, along with Cullman, we can identify these Hel- 
lenists as converted Essenes, the consequences should 
prove interesting. In fact we do know that these Hel- 
lenists were driven out of Jerusalem because of their 
attitude with regard to the Temple. Exiled, they be- 
came the first Christian missionaries. Samaria was the 
first region evangelized by them. And from Samaria 
they were to go to Syria and to Damascus especially. 
In Damascus, perhaps they found some Zadokites who 
had remained there ever since their exile; and they 
probably won some converts among them. In any case 
it must be pointed out that these Syrian Christians can 
be more particularly linked to the Damascus Document 
than to the Qumran scrolls. This is an interesting fact 
that deserves some emphasis. 

Dositheus and the Origin of Gnosticism 

Before all else, one point should hold our attention. In 
the course of their mission in Samaria, the Hellenists 
came into contact with Simon the Sorcerer, who is the 


father of gnosticism. This movement is characterized by 
a rigorous cosmological dualism which assigns the rule 
of the actual world to an inferior god, the demiurge, 
and which maintains that the true God will come to 
deliver those who belong to Him in order to usher them 
into a new world. Simon is the first known represen- 
tative of this doctrine. His disciples, Satornil and Car- 
pocrates, were to bring it to Antioch; and his disciple, 
Basilides, to Alexandria. The doctrine was further de- 
veloped in Egypt by Valentine and his disciples. Up to 
now, all we know about them comes from the accounts 
of the heresiarchs. A sensational discovery in Nag 
Hammadi in Egypt has revealed the existence of a 
library containing three codices, not yet published, but 
about which H.-Ch. Puech and G. Quispel have fur- 
nished valuable information. 4 This movement was to 
continue in Manicheism which would make a world 
religion of it, stretching from Turkestan to North Africa, 
and which would persist up to the Middle Ages among 
the Cathari and the Albigenses. 5 

The origin of this movement has been one of the 
most passionately discussed problems for the past fifty 
years. Some scholars, following Festugiere, have tried 
to link it to Platonic dualism; while others, following 
Reitzenstein, have tried to link it to the ancient reli- 
gions of Egypt and Persia. But none of these attempts 
at a solution of the problem has gained universal ac- 
ceptance. More recently Quispel has suggested that 

*PUECH, QUISPEL, VAN UNNIK, The Jung Codex, 1955. 
6 G. QTJISPEL, Gnosis ds Weltreligion, 1953. 


Column 1 of the Manual of Discipline. 


Pottery, lamps and coins found at Qumran. 

Early Development of the Church 97 

gnosticism may be linked to the heterodox currents of 
Jewish thought. 6 As a matter of fact it is striking to see 
how many elements of gnosticism do derive from Juda- 
ism. But in such a case its specific element, that is, its 
dualism, remains unexplained. Now the Qumran scrolls 
show us that there was a current within Judaism in 
which dualism was very marked, since the world was 
divided between two opposing princes. 

Do we have reason to believe in a contact between 
Simon the Sorcerer and the Essenes? The answer again 
is yes because Simon was the disciple of a certain 
Dositheus who clearly seems to have been an Essene. 
He is introduced to us as a son of Zadok (Rec. I, 54). 
He lived in Kokba, near Damascus, which seems to 
have been the habitation of ZadoMte exiles to the 
country of Damascus. 7 He was a strict observer of the 
Sabbath (ORIGEN, Princ. IV, 3:2). And he was an 
ascetic (EPIPHANIUS, Pan. XIII). He had known 
John the Baptist. Further, he applied to himself the 
text in Deut. 18:15, on the Prophet announced by 
Moses, which is cited by Stephen (Acts 7:37) and 
which, in addition, forms part of the Testimonia of 
Qumran (Qc, I, 121 ). 8 Later Simon was to separate 
from Dositheus in order to establish a new sect, the 
Heleniens. This term greatly resembles the term 

6<< Christliche Gnosis und Jiidische Heterodoxie" ET (1954), pp. 

7 B. Z. LXIEUE, "Histoire de la communante juive de Damas," Eretz 
Israel (1956), pp. 111-118. 

8 A. M. WILSON, "Simon, Dositheus and the DSS " ZRGG, IX 
(1957), pp. 21-40. 


Helleniens which, in addition, designated Essenes, 
whether they were Jews or converts to Christianity. It 
is therefore very possible that gnosticism, through 
Simon, may be a radical exaggeration of the Essenian 
dualism, perhaps as a result of Persian influences. In 
this case one of the greatest enigmas of the history of 
religion is on the road to being solved. 

Traces of Essenian Thought in St. Paul 

But let us return now to the Acts of the Apostles. As 
Stephen was being stoned, a young Jew stood guard 
over the clothes of his executioners. He was called Saul. 
He had no reason to feel any sympathy for Stephen, 
because he not only detested the Christians but also 
belonged to a different Jewish sect than the one of 
which Stephen was a member: he was a Pharisee. Is 
there no reason, therefore, to find in him some elements 
borrowed from the doctrines of Qmnran? If some are 
to be found it would mean that he came into contact 
with the Essenes after his conversion. Now the fact is 
that his thought does present characteristics that relate 
it in a most striking way to those of the Qumran scrolls. 
This immediately gives rise to a historical question: 
just when did Paul familiarize himself with Essenism? 
It would appear that this contact must have taken 
place immediately after his conversion. As a matter of 
fact all the Epistles bear traces of Essenian influences 
and they are linked to the fundamental themes of the 

Early Development of the Church 99 

Pauline correspondence. Hence one hypothesis im- 
mediately comes to mind. Paul was converted in 
Damascus; it was there that he received his first instruc- 
tion. It was then, doubtlessly, that he came into contact 
with some Christians who had emerged from Essenism, 
and who had been converted by the first Christian mis- 
sionaries who were none other than our Hellenists. 
It is quite probable, therefore, that Paul may have been 
instructed in Damascus by these converted Essenes. 

To be sure, the basis of Paul's faith is purely Chris- 
tian: it was the risen Christ who revealed Himself to 
him in Damascus. But it is unquestionable that he 
presents this faith in a form that frequently recalls 
Qumran. 9 This is immediately apparent in many ex- 
pressions. St. Paul writes: "But we have this treasure in 
earthly vessels" (2 Cor. 4:7). Now in the Hodayot we 
read: "I give thanks unto Thee, O Lord, Thou hast done 
wonders with dust and Thou hast worked powerfully 
with a vessel of clay" (XI, 3). Paul writes: "Giving 
thanks to God the Father, who hath made us worthy 
to be partakers of the lot of the saints in the light" 
( Col. 1: 12) ; and the Manual of Discipline reads: "God 
gave them a heritage partaking of the lot of the saints" 
(DSD XI, 7). 

Certain resemblances go even further and bear on 
the doctrines themselves. We shall note that Paul 
associated the notions of mystery, revelation and 
knowledge: **. . . according to revelation, the mystery 

9 See W. GROSSOUW, "The DSS and the New Testament," SC, 
XXVH(1952),pp. 1-8. 


has been made known to me, as I have written above in 
a few words. As you reading may understand my 
knowledge in the mystery of Christ" ( Epli. 3 : 3-4 ) . Now 
nothing in the Qumran documents is more familiar 
than this conception. Thus in the Habakkuk Com- 
mentary it is a question of the Teacher of Righteousness 
"to whom God made known all the mysteries of the 
words of His servants the prophets" (VII, 4-5). Like- 
wise in the Manual of Discipline (XL, 5 ) we read: "His 
marvelous mysteries have illuminated my heart/' and 
finally in the Hodayot we come upon: "I give thanks 
unto Thee, O Lord, for Thou hast let me know Your 
wondrous mysteries" (VII, 26). It will be noted that 
the conception of knowledge as a revelation of divine 
secrets is to be found in the Judaism of the times. But 
this was a very marked tendency at Qumran. It permits 
us to show that Paul's gnosis in every way is purely 

Two features of this gnosis must be pointed out. 
First is the doctrine of justification. All the authors, 
Millar Burrows, Grossouw, Braun, are agreed, on 
stressing similarities with respect to this point. Many 
aspects of it are common to Paul and die Qumran 
scrolls. To begin with, there is a personal sense of sin, 
much more marked than in the Old Testament and 
which we have already noted: "Man is steeped in sin 
from birth; justice and righteousness belongeth not to 
him" (DST IV, 25-27). This sin is not personal, but 
primordial. Only God can justify it: "In His justice He 
will purify me of human contagion" (DST IV, 33). 

Early Development of the Church 101 

This notion, original in relation to the Old Testament, 
does not stem from Pharisaism which is based on the 
works of the Law. Paul therefore must have got it from 
the doctrine of Qumran. 

This doctrine of justification is tied to faith by Paul. 
And we know that he bases himself on a verse from 
Habakkuh (II, 4): "But that in the law no man is 
justified with God, it is manifest: because the just man 
liveth by faith" (Gal. 3:11). It would certainly be 
exciting to find the same verse commented upon in the 
Habakkuk Commentary. Now the fact is that it is com- 
mented upon and we read: "But the righteous will live 
by faith. This refers to all those who observe the Law 
in the House of Judah which God will spare from 
Judgment on account of their sufferings and their faith 
in the Teacher of Righteousness" (VIII, 1-3). 

The comparison is striking, but the difference be- 
tween them immediately blazons forth. In the one case 
faith is opposed to the Law and in the other it is linked 
to the Law. Faith in Christ, as Cullman has ably shown, 
is faith in His redemptive action which fulfills what is 
impossible for the Law. 10 Faith in the Teacher of 
Righteousness, on the contrary, is faith in him who 
teaches how to fulfill the Law. It would almost seem as 
if this were a Pauline polemic against the Midrash. 

Another doctrine, indeed the most characteristic of 
Qumran, also appears in St. Paul with details of expres- 
sion that leave no doubt as to its origin: it is that of the 
struggle between the Light and Darkness. Thus in 

10 Loc. tit., p. 217. 


Romans 13:12, we read: "The night is passed, and the 
day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of 
darkness, and put on the armour of light/' And in 2 
Corinthians 6:14, the expression: "What fellowship 
hath light with darkness? And what concord hath 
Christ with Belial?" makes of Belial the Prince of 
Darkness. Now this name which is found only here in 
the New Testament was one frequently used at 
Qumran ( CDC IV, 13 ) . Another expression, "the Angel 
of Satan," is found once in 2 Cor. 12:7, and in CDC, 
XVI, 4. Kuhn has likewise pointed out that the 
list of the works of darkness and the works of light 
(Ephesians 4:17; 5:14) recalls the expressions in the 
Damascus Document ( IV, 3 ) that ring with an amazing 
similarity. 11 

This similarity appears fully in a passage of the Acts 
of the Apostles, in which Grossouw sees the most 
astonishing literary parallel with the Manual of 
Discipline. The passage deals with the speech that Paul 
makes in the Caesarea before a court presided over by 
King Agrippa and his sister Berenice. Paul tells of the 
vision he saw on the road to Damascus. These are the 
words he puts into the mouth of Christ: ". . . Now I 
send thee to open their eyes, that they may be con- 
verted from darkness to light, and from the power of 
Satan to God, and that they may receive forgiveness of 
sins, and a lot among the saints by the faith that is in 
Me" (Acts 26:17-18). All these formulas have their 

""Die in Palastina gefundenen bebraischen Texte und das N. T./* 
ZKT( 1950), pp. 192-211. 

Early Development of the Church 103 

equivalent in the Qumran scrolls, from "open their 
eyes" up to "a lot among the saints". 12 Now this speech 
concerns the conversion of St. Paul in Damascus. It is 
the explanation of his first experience with Christianity. 
It is also a kind of synthesis of the way in which 
Christianity appeared in its very beginnings. And if 
we note in addition that the schema of this speech is 
entirely Essenian, how can we avoid the thought that 
it is an echo of the first instruction that Paul received 
in Damascus, and that in it we have an elementary 
catechism of sorts? Moreover we have already observed 
that the structure of the first Christian catechism, such 
as we find it in the Didache, is based on the two ways, 
that of light and that of darkness. This would appear to 
provide final confirmation that the Christianity which 
St. Paul found in Damascus was the Christianity of 
converted Essenes. And this explains how the very 
structure of his message presents so great a similarity 
with that of the Essenes. 

St. John and the Theology of Qumran 

If the thought of St. Paul shows curious points in com- 
mon with that of Qumran, the Johannine writings show 
even more, as has been pointed out by Braun, Albright, 
Kuhn and Grossouw. These relationships, however, are 
to be explained by different reasons. In fact, it seems 
that John may have had several occasions to know the 

12 See GROSSOUW, loc. ctt., p. 6. 


Essenian group. For one thing he was a disciple of the 
Baptist and, therefore, could have known the Essenes 
before becoming a disciple of Jesus. He belonged to 
the first Christian community in Jerusalem and his con- 
tacts with Essenism may, therefore, be explained 
further by his membership in the original Christian 
group which we have already discussed. Later he 
entered into close relations with the Hellenists of 
Damascus. And finally we shall see that, in Ephesus, 
he met many Essenian priests who had been driven out 
of Palestine after 70 A.D. 13 

The similarities between the Qumran scrolls and 
the Apocalypse seem to be linked to the contacts 
between John and the Hellenists. They revolve around 
certain details. One senses, for example, that John is 
familiar with the Messianic Testimonia of Qumran and 
especially those of the Damascus Document. Alongside 
the theme of the stars (Apoc. 2:28; CDC, VII, 19) 
which comes from Numbers 25: 17, is found that of the 
rod which refers to the same text in Numbers: ". . . who 
was to rule all nations with an iron rod" (Apoc. 12:5) . 
Also of interest in this connection is 19:15-21 of the 
same book. Now the Damascus Document writes: "The 
rod is the prince of the community, and when he comes 
he shall beat down all the sons of devastation/' In the 
same passage of the Damascus Document, Zacharias 
13:7 is quoted: "Awake, O sword." It is applied to the 
Messiah (CDC, XIX, 10). Now the Apocalypse reads: 

13 Braun, "L'arri&re-fond {udaique du IV Evangile et la commu- 
nal de FAlHance," RB, LXH (1955), pp. 43-44. 

Early Development of the Church 105 

"And out of his mouth proceedeth a sharp two-edged 
sword; that with it he may strike the nations" ( 19:15) . 
This can also be compared to the following verse in the 
collection of Benedictions from Cave 1 (V, 2, p. 29) : 
"Thou strikest the peoples by the breath of Thy word 
and by the breath of Thy lips wilt Thou dispatch the 
wicked." These texts allude to Isaias 11:14: "And he 
shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and 
with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked." 

It will be noted that in the same passage of the 
Damascus Document, Ezekiel, 9:4, is cited. This is the 
text about the mark on the foreheads of the members 
of the community of Qumran. It is difficult to determine 
whether this is taken in a figurative sense or whether it 
corresponds to a rite. Now the same text is cited in the 
Apocalypse: "Hurt not the earth, nor the sea, nor the 
trees, till we sign the servants of God on their foreheads" 
( 7:3 ) . After this there follows the celebrated enumera- 
tion: "Ex tribu Juda duodecim millia signati." And 
further it deals with those "who have not the sign of 
God on their foreheads" (9:4). 

Perhaps here we are at the source of a very ancient 
Christian tradition, namely that of marking the forehead 
with a cross. It seems clear that the cited text from the 
Apocalypse signifies that the Christians were marked 
by the sign of God, announced by Ezekiel. Ezekiel tells 
us that this sign had the form of a Tau, and we know 
that at that time Tau was written in the form of a Latin 
cross, or Saint Andrew's cross. Now among the very 
ancient Christian rites of Baptism there exists also that 


of marking the forehead of the catechumen, who is 
thereby introduced into the company of the people of 
God. It is very probable that this is the rite of which St. 
John speaks. But in this case the sign would originally 
designate the Name of God of which Tau was the 
expression. 14 

Moreover we can find in Hennas, an ancient Chris- 
tian writer influenced by Essenism, the expression "to 
be marked by the Name," while we never come upon 
the expression "marked by the sign of the cross/' It 
would seem, therefore, that later the sign was inter- 
preted as designating the cross, while originally it was 
a sign of consecration to the Name of God. And we 
know that in primitive Christianity "the Name of God" 
was the expression then current for designating the 
second person of the Trinity. Since then the mark on 
the forehead, at baptism, designates consecration to 

On the other hand its does not seem impossible to me 
that the name of Christian, given for the first time to 
the disciples of Christ at Antioch, may be an erroneous 
interpretation of the sign Tau which was marked on the 
forehead and which, as we know, may have had the 
form of the so-called St. Andrew's cross. Because the 
form of this cross was the same as the Greek X, the 
Greeks who did not understand the meaning of the 
sign might have interpreted it as the first letter of 
Christos (Xpwrros). The interesting feature of this 

14 See J.-L. TEICHER, "The Christian Interpretation of the Sign X 
in the Isaiah Scron," VT, V (1955), pp. 189-198. 

Early Development of the Church 107 

observation should not escape us. For if the Christians 
inherited the idea o marking the forehead with the 
sign Tau from the people of Qumran then it follows 
that one of the still-existing rites of the haptismal 
ceremony originated with them. There is nothing 
startling about this, however, if we recall having 
already noted that other rites accompanying baptism, 
in particular the renunciation of Satan, seem also to 
trace back to them. 

We have observed further that the same passage of 
the Apocalypse which mentions the signs on the fore- 
heads of the servants of God also lists the number of 
tribes which make up the people of God. This provides 
an orientation for us with respect to another writing 
which we have not yet discussed, but whose relations 
to the Apocalypse are startling: the War of the Sons of 
Light and the Sons of Darkness. It deals with an 
apocalyptic struggle between the servants of God and 
the servants of Belial, which immediately recalls the 
very theme of the Apocalypse. Moreover the work is 
specifically composed of long listings of different 
sections of the army of the Sons of Light. But there 
are still other startling resemblances to be found in it. 
The War tells us in fact of the "day appointed for trip- 
ping up the prince of the realm of perdition and the 
sending of an angel for this purpose, Michael, whom he 
has made full of glory so that he can exercise his 
power" (XVII, 5-6). Now the Apocalypse shows 
Michael and his angels fighting the dragon: "And that 
great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is 


called tlie devil and Satan ... I heard a loud voice in 
heaven saying . . . now is come salvation . . . the 
kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ" 
(12:7-10). It will be noted, but this is an immense 
difference, that the power which in Qumran is exercised 
by Michael (XVII, 8) is transferred to Christ in the 

If these similarities with the Apocalypse revolve only 
around a few details, the relationship between the 
Qumran scrolls and the Gospel and Epistles is based on 
certain common features. As is known, the Gospel of 
John is entirely constructed on the theme of the con- 
flict between light and darkness. This is made clear in 
the very first lines: "In him was life, and the life was 
the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and 
the darkness did not comprehend it" (John 1:4-5). 
Now this is nothing else but the leitmotif of Qumran. 
We could explain it by the similarity of imagery. But 
there also exist similarities of detail so that many 
singular expressions whose original background up to 
now has been sought here and there, in Hellenism, 
among the Mandeans and the Gnostics, now seem to 
have found their literary place of origin. This is a dis- 
covery of capital importance which shows that the 
backdrop of John's thought is Jewish, and thereby a 
breach is made in the theses put forth by the two most 
important recent commentators on John: Dodd, who 
interprets him as stemming from Hellenism; and 
Bultmann, who links him to the Gnostics. As Albright 
has stated, the debate on the original background of 

Early Development of the Church 109 

the Gospel of John appears to be definitely closed. 15 

Let us give some examples of these Essenian ata- 
visms. We find "the children of light" (John 12:36) 
who are mentioned in the Manual of Discipline ( I, 9; 
III, 24). But they were already mentioned in Luke 
(16:8) and in the Epistle to the Thessalonians (5:5). 
On the contrary the expressions peculiar to John are 
"light of life" (John 8:12) which is also in the Manual 
of Discipline (III, 7), the expression "he that walketh 
in darkness" (John 12:35) which is in the Manual of 
Discipline (III, 21), "he that doth truth" (John 3:21) 
which is in the Manual of Discipline (III, 21), and 
finally the expression "works of God" (John 6:28) 
which is in the Manual of Discipline (IV, 4). The 
following passage from the First Epistle of John 
is also very characteristic: ". . . Believe not every 
spirit, but try the spirits if they be of God: be- 
cause many false prophets are gone out into the 
world. By this is the spirit of God known. Every spirit 
which conf esseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, 
is of God. And every spirit that dissolveth Jesus, is not 
of God: and this is Antichrist" (4:1-3). The idea of 
distinguishing between spirits is characteristic of Qum- 
ran ( DSD, V, 24 ) . The same is true with the idea of the 
Antichrist. But it will be noted that the distinctive 
characteristic of the good spirit is to recognize in Jesus 
the Word become flesh. Here too it would appear that 

15 "Recent Discoveries in Palestine and the Gospel of John/* The 
Background of the New Testament and His Eschatology. 1956, p. 


there may have been some discussions with the Es- 
senes. Hence the question may be asked whether John 
does not place the Teacher of Righteousness among the 
false prophets. 

And in fact, for John, the struggle between light and 
darkness is not the struggle between Michael, the 
Prince of Light, and Satan. It is the Son of God who 
rises to struggle against Satan, "the Prince of this 
world," as John designates him in accordance with an 
expression that is distinctively Essenian. Thus, even if 
the central schema is the same., one of the protagonists 
changes. It would seem that John addresses his gospel 
to a group familiar with this theme of a conflict 
between light and darkness, but which radically modi- 
fies its content by replacing the "Angel of Light" with 
"the Word become Flesh." Now who could this group 
have been but a group of converted Essenes, albeit 
heterodox, who were driven to Asia Minor by the per- 
secutions of the year 70 A. D.? 

A particularly interesting point has been raised by 
Braun. 16 In the fourth chapter of the Gospel of John, 
dealing with the woman of Samaria, there is a discus- 
sion about Jacob's well which appears as a symbol of 
the Jewish Law. In fact the Samaritan woman says: 
"Art thou greater than our father Jacob, who gave us 
the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, 
and his cattle?" ( 4: 12 ) . Now the first text in which the 
well appears as a symbol of the Law is in the Damascus 
Document. The idea is repeated several times: "The 
well in question is the Law. Those who dug it are those 

Early Development of the Church 111 

of Israel, and were exiled to the land of Damascus" 
(VI, 4-5). Later mention will be made of "Those who 
entered into the new covenant in the land of Damascus 
but then turned away from the well of living waters" 
(XIX, 33-34). It would appear, then, that when Christ 
answers : "If thou didst know the gift of God, and who 
he is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou perhaps 
wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given 
thee living water' 7 (John 4: 10 ) . He is opposing the new 
Law of which He is the bearer to the old Law. 

If it be so, one may ask whether Jacob's well is not 
only an allusion to the Law of Israel but to the Essenian 
community which represented itself as a new covenant. 
We shall observe that the episode took place in Sama- 
ria, and Cullman has observed that, at the conclusion 
of the account, verse 38 of the same chapter 17 appears 
to be an allusion to a mission of the Hellenists in Sama- 
ria which we have already discussed. Thus in this pas- 
sage we would find a new point of contact between 
John and the circles of the Hellenists, these converted 
Zadokites who evangelized Samaria and Damascus and 
who, above all, knew the Damascus Document. 

Is the Epistle to the Hebrews 
Addressed to the Essenes? 

Do we have any other evidence on the relations 
between the books of the New Testament and the 
Zadokite priests after 70 A. D.? I shall disregard the 

17 "I Have sent you to reap that in which you did not labor: others 
have labored and you have entered into their labors.** 


elements that one can find in the Catholic Epistles of 
Peter, James and Jude. But one text does merit our at- 
tention; this is the mysterious Epistle to the Hebrews. It 
presents features common to the thought of Paul, but 
it is not his and certainly came after him. And it is very 
difficult to determine its geographical locale: Father 
Spicq thinks it is Syria; Leonhard Goppelt, Rome; 
Father Braun, Asia-Minor; while most authors fix the 
background as Alexandria. But if the geographical 
location escapes us, the spiritual setting, on the other 
hand, can be determined. 

We have already noted that the Zadokites seemed to 
make an extraordinary cult of angels: now the entire 
beginning of the Epistle is an affirmation of the superi- 
ority of the Word over the angels. Moreover the Zado- 
kites are linked to a priestly group: the entire 
Epistle is centered on the question of the true priest, 
a central question with the Zadokites, expressed by 
their very name. Under the Maccabees they had been 
separated from the Jewish community because the high 
priests of the latter were Hasmoneans who did not de- 
scend from Aaron and Levi. Legitimists who remained 
loyal to the lineage of Zadok, the great Aaronid high 
priest of the time of Solomon, they were waiting for 
two Messiahs to come with the last days; one would 
be a high priest, the Messiah of Aaron, the other, sub- 
ordinate to him, would be the Messiah of Judah. 

For this reason it certainly must have been difficult 
for them to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. For if Jesus 
could pretend to be the Messiah, and the Son of David, 

Early Development of the Church 113 

He was in no wise a descendant of Aaron and therefore 
could not be a sacerdotal Messiah. Now the purpose of 
the Epistle to the Hebrews is to show that Jesus is the 
Messianic High Priest and that it is not repugnant that 
the two functions be gathered in the same person. But it 
was still necessary to adduce an argument in support of 
this assertion. The author of the Epistle goes in search 
of one to Melchisedec, who was at once a priest and 
king. And he uses this as a basis for asserting that the 
true Messiah does not belong to the lineage of Aaron, 
but stems from an even higher levitical lineage: he is 
the high priest after the order of Melchisedec. 

Clearly such a demonstration of the legitimacy of the 
priesthood, which appears very complicated to us, can 
be easily explained if its purpose was to convince a 
group for whom the question of the Aaronid priesthood 
was a central one. Hence it seems quite reasonable to 
view those to whom the Epistle was addressed as a 
group of Essenian priests. 18 The importance attached to 
die cult of the Temple would lead in the same direc- 
tion; the same can also be said for a certain rigorism, 
not to speak of such expressions as "And to the church 
of the firstborn, who are written in the heavens" which 
designates the angels (12:23). Its very allegorical 
form, so distinctive of the Epistle, recalls what Philo 
says of the Essenes; and it would also correspond with 
a development of their exegesis which had been pro- 
phetic in the ancient midrashim, but which had grad- 
ually become more mystical. Does this permit us to 

18 BnAUN, loc. tit., pp. 37-38. 


determine the geographical locale of this text? It 
seems that this evolution of the Essenes was most 
marked in Egypt. There one finds the Therapeutes, a 
branch of the Essenian movement that perhaps goes 
back to the exile of the Teacher of Righteousness into 
Egypt. Perhaps it is a question here of the second exile, 
the one after 70 A. D. In any case Egypt would seem to 
be the locale indicated because of the contacts with 
Philo on the one hand, and the Epistle of the Pseudo- 
Barnabas on the other. 

The Testaments of the XII Patriarchs 
The Work of a Converted Essene 

A study of the New Testament shows us that a great 
number of Zadokite priests were converted to Chris- 
tianity: we have already noted the first movement of 
converts in Jerusalem, that of the Hellenists, who es- 
tablished the Church in Syria; later, after the fall of 
Jerusalem, we see St. John in Asia-Minor, and the 
author of the Epistle to the Hebrews in dialogues with 
dispersed Essenes. And it is highly probable that at 
that time many rallied to Christianity. We have certain 
proof of this in the form of certain writings whose 
sources up to now had been enigmatic but whose 
origins we have now discovered. These writings are 
the first ones in which we find Essenian influence to be 
so marked. 
We have already spoken of the Testaments of the 

Early Development of the Church 115 

Patriarchs. This work, preserved only in Greek, 
Armenian, and old Slavonic, reports the exhortations 
made by the twelve sons of Jacob to their children. 
Each one of them recommends a particular virtue; and 
each one likewise prophesies what will befall his de- 
scendants. This work gives rise to a singular question. 
In fact it offers so many similarities with the Qumran 
scrolls that it may be viewed as an Essenian document. 
This is evident in the characteristic expressions them- 
selves: the name of Belial given to the demon, the 
"visitation of the Lord" which one finds in the Manual 
of Discipline (III, 18) and in Luke 19:44. The doctrine 
of the two spirits also holds an important place in this 
work, as well as the Gnosis of the mysteries. But there is 
something even more singular: in it one finds the con- 
ception of the waiting for a priestly Messiah, descend- 
ing from the tribe of Levi which is an absolute and 
specific feature of Qumran. One can also note in this 
work a certain predilection for the text in Numbers 
24:17, so dear to the men of Qumran. 

On the other hand the Christian character of the 
work is certain. Texts such as the following leave no 
doubt: "When God shall visit the world, He himself 
having come like a man among men, He will save 
Israel and all the nations, God wearing the face of 
man!" ( Asher VII, 4). One reads further that "God as- 
sumed a body, and has eaten with men and saved man" 
(Simeon VI, 7) . Of the Messiah it is said that "He will 
save all the nations and Israel" (Simeon VII, 2). The 
text in Levi IV, 1 is applied to the Passion of the Most 


High which at one and the same time affirms the Cru- 
cifixion and the Divine Person of the Crucified. Christ 
is called "Saviour of the World" (Levi X, 2), a speci- 
fically Christian expression found in Luke 2:11. Certain 
expressions moreover are borrowed from the New Tes- 
tament: "The Lamb of God who removes the sins of 
the world will rise for us in order to save Israel and all 
the nations" (Joseph XIX, 1). Many other doctrinal or 
liturgical traits, which can leave no doubt of such bor- 
rowings, have been pointed out by de Jonge. 

But we have another proof of the Christian origin of 
this text and it is furnished to us by the Qumran ex- 
cavations themselves. This proof is that no fragment of 
this work has been found. Given the number of frag- 
ments of other documents that have been found there, 
such an absence is decisive. Moreover, fragments of a 
Testament of Levi have been found; but it is not similar 
to the one that we know and it has no Christian charac- 
ter whatsoever. Thus it seems highly probable that with 
the Testaments of the XII Patriarchs we are not dealing 
with an Essenian work edited by a Christian, but an 
actual Christian writing which was inspired by a liter- 
ary genre in use at Qumran. Here, therefore, we have a 
characteristic example of the literature of converted 

The interest of the work lies in the fact that it re- 
volves, in large measure, around the problem that we 
have just posed in connection with the Epistle to the 
Hebrews, the problem of the priestly Messiah. Accord- 
ing to the Zadokites he had to be a descendant of Levi. 

Early Development of the Church 117 

Now, just like the Epistle, the Testaments show a new 
priest in him: "After God shall have avenged himself 
of the wicked priests, the priest will disappear and the 
Lord will raise a new priest" (Levi XVIII, 1). This 
priest is described in the same terms as the Davidic 
Messiah which proves his identity with him: "His star 
will rise in the sky like a King, illuminating the light of 
knowledge . . . The heavens will open and from the 
sanctuary of glory sanctification will descend upon him 
along with the paternal voice. And the Spirit of holiness 
and intelligence will rest on him upon the waters. He 
will give the greatness of God to his sons and will have 
no successors. Under his priesthood sin will have an 
end. He will open up the gates of Paradise. And Belial 
will be bound by him" ( Levi XVIII, 3-12 ) . 

One will note in this text the allusions to the Baptism 
of Christ, with the voice of the Father, the effusion of 
the Spirit and the waters of Jordan. Especially to be 
noted is the close resemblance with the Apocalypse of 
John which confirms our idea that the Apocalypse at- 
tests to links between John and the Syrian Hellenists, 
as Culhnan has demonstrated. Finally, the resem- 
blances between it and the Epistle to the Hebrews are 
striking. The idea that the Messianic High Priest will 
not have any successors can be found textually in the 
Epistle to the Hebrews. It will be observed that if the 
High Priest belongs to an order different from that of 
the Aaronid priesthood, the Testaments, however, 
make no allusion to Melchisedea On the contrary this 
allusion to Melchisedec "chief of the priests of another 


race" is found in another work of this time, the Second 
Book of Enoch (XLI, 3-4) which must be linked to the 
same circles. 

The Syrian Church and the Zadokites 

It would seem that the Testaments originated in Syria. 
They therefore express the theology of the Christians 
who had come over from Essenism, had been converted 
in Jerusalem and had founded the Syrian Church. 
These were the Christians with whom John was in con- 
tact and among whom Paul was instructed. They con- 
stitute a particular group in the primitive Church: very 
influential, and distinct from that of James and of the 
Jerusalem community, and also distinct from the 
Pauline establishment in Asia-Minor and Rome. After 
the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A. D., Antioch was to be- 
come the center of Aramaic Christianity and give it 
its Essenian color. This Church of Antioch was to 
reach its high point under Ignatius, then lose its 
supremacy soon afterward when Hellenist Christianity 
began to grow and flourish. Nevertheless, it would pre- 
serve its special features up to our own time in Syriac 
Christianity, so impregnated with Judaism, so sacerdo- 
tal and so cultist 

The question then arises as to whether we have any 
other documents on this Antiochan Church whose 
members were partly recruited from Essenian circles. 
It so happens that the Church of Antioch is that on 

Early Development of the Church 119 

which we are the best informed as regards its ancient 
history. The first Christian ritual, the Didache, surely 
originated there; later around 120 A. D., we have the 
Letters of Ignatius of Antioch; and then a collection of 
liturgical Psalms, and the Odes of Solomon preserved 
in Syria. Now if we compare the facts concerning the 
organization of the ecclesiastic community contained 
in these works, they form a coherent image many of 
whose features recall Qumran. It is quite probable that 
certain of these features go back to the primitive com- 
munity of Jerusalem, and that is why we have talked 
about the latter. But the most typical features are 
distinctly Antiochan. 

We have already observed that the catechism pre- 
paratory to baptism which the Didache presents us 
is structured on the Treatise on the Two Ways, an 
Essenian catechism about which we know through the 
Manual of Discipline. This doctrine of the ways marks, 
as we have also noted, other aspects of the preparation 
for baptism: the renunciation of Satan and the profes- 
sion of faith in Christ are its culmination, which at 
Qumran had its equivalent in the break with the infidel 
Jews and their way, and the adhesion to the community 
and its way. From the Clementine Homilies we learn 
that this practice existed among the Judeo-Christians 
with whom the principal virtue that was recommended 
was simplicity straightforwardness as opposed to 
duplicity, which is hesitation between the two ways. 

Baptism was administered in running water. This is 
found in the pseudo-Clementine writings and seems to 


be Essenian. One must pray three times a day. And die 
practice of composing liturgical Hymns for the meet- 
ings of the community is attested to by Ignatius. We 
have admirable examples of these in the Odes of 
Solomon. These present great similarities to the 
Hodayot of Qumran, also composed for cultist gather- 
ings. The expression "praise of the lips/' so dear to 
Qumran and which is in the Epistle to the Hebrews, is 
found in the Odes. One will also note here the impor- 
tance of the knowledge of the mysteries. The author of 
the Odes considers himself inspired, as does the author 
of the Hodayot. This reminds us of the place held by 
the prophets in the archaic communities. It will be 
noted that in the fourth century the Syriac deacon, 
Ephrem, also composed liturgical hymns. 

On the other hand, in the Letters of Ignatius the 
community of Antioch appears to present a highly 
organized hierarchy. There is a bishop, then the pres- 
byter, and then the deacons. Such a highly developed 
organization at so early a date has been a problem to 
scholars for a long time. It was way in advance of the 
Church organizations in Rome or in Asia Minor. Now 
we know that the hierarchic structure was a character- 
istic of Qumran, and this would be a powerful argu- 
ment for asserting the Essenian origin of the Syrian 
community. Ignatius conceived his Church, as Cam- 
penhausen sees it, essentially as a community of praise 
structured along monastic lines 19 which strongly calls 
to mind the Qumran monastery and its liturgical cult. 

19 KircMiches Ami und geistliche VoUmacht in den ersten Jdhr- 
hunderten, 1953, p. 113. 

Early Development of the Church 121 

Another characteristic feature of the Syrian Church 
is its asceticism. We notice that wine is never men- 
tioned in the Odes of Solomon. Milk and water provide 
the imagery. But the essential thing is the attitude with 
regard to marriage. It is not condemned. And it is only 
condemned by extremists like Tatien. There is nothing 
special about the fact that virginity is praised. But it 
would clearly seem that virginity enjoyed a special 
status in the community. Voobus has shown that at the 
moment of baptism one was asked to choose between 
marriage and celibacy, and those who chose celibacy 
were baptized first and occupied a higher rank. Other 
documents show something analogous. Thus Molland 
has shown that the organization of the Ebionites also 
presented two degrees, and that the higher degree was 
characterized by a higher level of asceticism which 
entailed virginity, 20 and which corresponds to that 
which we learn from the Qumran documents: in the 
Essenian community there was a higher degree of 
monks and a lower degree of married persons. 

This is very interesting because it shows us the 
existence of a spiritual hierarchy alongside an institu- 
tional hierarchy. The monks were not marginal to the 
community as they are today, but represented its 
higher degree. And it is very probable that the priests 
and bishops were recruited among them, which made 
it possible for the two hierarchies to coincide to a great 
extent. It is because of this slant that the monasticism 
of Qumran can be considered as the source of Christian 

20 See Studia Theologica, IX (1955), pp. 37-39. 


monasticism, not in that it was continued in a particular 
group, but insofar as it concerned the very structure 
of the ecclesiastic community. 

Ebionism and Essenism 

It remains to ask ourselves whether Syria was the only 
region where the Essenes, expelled from Palestine in 
70 A. D., found refuge. We have said that the Gospel 
of John seems to address itself to those in Asia Minor. 
But we do not have any writings which attest with any 
certainty to their presence in that region. Moreover, we 
have said that the Epistle to the Hebrews was also 
aimed at Zadokite priests. We think that it is Alexan- 
drian, but even here there is no text that would permit 
us to disclose with certainity the presence of any con- 
verted Essenes in Egypt. The only ancient texts that we 
have, the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Christian 
Sibyllines, are not decisive. On the contrary there are 
two regions where we certainly do find Christianized 
Essenes and these are at the two extreme poles o the 
Christian world of the time: in Trans-Jordan and in 

In fact it is to Essenism that the heterodox group, the 
Ebionites, must be linked. This name comes from the 
Hebrew "ebion" which means "poor/* It refers to a 
group of Jews who believed in Christ, but only as a 
great Jewish prophet and not as the risen Son of God. 
This group seems to have been organized in Trans- 
Jordan after 70 A. D., and it was still in existence in the 

Early Development of the Church 123 

fourth century and known to St. Jerome. It presents 
amazing similarities with Islam whose remote origins 
it could represent. We know the group well because of 
the accounts of Irenaeus, but above all because of two 
singular writings, the Homilies and the Thanksgivings 
of the pseudo-Clement. 

Now this group presents such amazing similarities 
with the Zadokites that one author, Teicher, has been 
able to maintain that the Qumran manuscripts were 
their work. 21 If this seems impossible, it is at least cer- 
tain, as Cullman in particular has shown, that we are 
dealing with a group that derived from Essenism. 22 
They teach that God has established two beings, Christ 
and the Devil. Power over future time was given to the 
former, and power over the present to the latter. But, 
for them, Christ was not engendered of God the Father; 
He was created like one of the archangels, but He is 
greater than they. Each generation the Devil sends a 
false prophet and Christ a true prophet. Jesus is only 
one of these prophets, assisted by the Prince of Lights, 
the Christ. For them Paul was a prophet to whom 
Peter had been opposed . This hostility to Paul marks 
the close attachment of the Ebionites to the Jews. 

They are, in fact, strict observers of the Jewish Law. 
They practice circumcision and observe the Sabbath. 
But they condemn the sacrifices of the Temple, thus 

21 "The Habakuk Scroll," JJS, V ( 1954) , pp. 47-59. 

22 "Die neuentdeckten Qumrantexte und das Judenduistentum der 
Pseudo-Klementinen," NTS fur H. Bultmann, pp, 35-51. See also 
H. J. SCHOEPS, "Handelt es sich Wirklich um ebionitische Doku- 
mente," ZRGG ( 1953) , pp. 242-255. 


exaggerating die attitude of the Zadokites, who sep- 
arated themselves from the Temple but who did not 
condemn the sacrifices and awaited their re-establish- 
ment in a purified Temple. Like the Essenes, they have 
daily ritual baths. But they also have a baptism of 
initiation, like the Christians. For their sacred meals 
they use unleavened bread and water, but they con- 
demn the use of wine. This was not the rule at Qumran; 
but it is well in accordance with the rigorism of the 
Zadokites, some of whom at least proscribed wine. 

All this permits us to trace the physiognomy of the 
group. They were surely Essenes. But, on the one hand, 
they have more radical tendencies: condemnation of 
the Temple, hostility to the priesthood, rejection of the 
books of the Prophets, and a rigorous asceticism. On 
the other hand, they have recognized in Jesus the 
supreme Incarnation of the True Prophet who mani- 
fests Himself to each generation; but they did not 
believe either in His Resurrection or in His Divinity. 
Thus they represent an intermediate group between 
Essenism and Christianity. In connection with them 
one can truly speak of a Christian Essenism, but one 
can also see how far they are from being a Christian 
community. And far from representing, as Schoeps 
thought, a survival of the primitive community of 
Jerusalem, this movement seems rather to be, as 
Cullman thinks, the result of an encounter with the 
Christianity of the Essenes who were exiled to Trans- 
Jordan after 70 A. D. 23 

2S "Die neuendeckten Qumrantexte tind das Judenchristentum der 
Pseudoklementfneii,** pp. 49-50. 

Early Development of the Church 125 

An Essene Converted in Rome 

The last Christian writing in which we can with certi- 
tude recognize the work of a converted Essene is 
located in quite different surroundings. It is entirely 
orthodox and reflects a Roman background. Hermas' 
The Shepherd is one of the most curious works of 
ancient Christian literature. It is a collection of visions, 
parables, and moral statements, which contain the 
revelations made by an angel, called The Shepherd. The 
oldest of these revelations go back to 90 A. D. In fact, 
the author was ordered to submit them to Pope 
Clement who reigned at that time and of whom, in 
addition, we have an Epistle. The last revelations date 
from around 140 A. D., during the pontificate of Pope 
Pius. According to the Muratorian Canon, the author, 
Hennas, was his brother. The Roman origin of the work 
is attested to by these allusions to the Bishop of Rome. 
Scholars have always noted that this work presented 
marked Jewish features. But the discovery of the Dead 
Sea Scrolls has allowed a Canadian scholar, Audet, to 
go much further and to recognize beyond doubt the 
author as a converted Essene. 24 In fact the comparisons 
are decisive. The moral teachings are expounded in 
accordance with the doctrine of the two spirits. But, in 
addition, even the details are similar. The activity of 
the good spirit produces peace, benevolence, and joy; 
the evil spirit gives rise to disorder, bitterness, and 

24" Affinities Iitt6raires et doctrinales du Manuel de discipline," 
RB,LX( 1953), pp. 41-82. 


sadness. One point is particularly noteworthy. We 
have seen that for the Essenes the Prince of Light was 
identified with the Archangel Michael. We have also 
seen that the Christians had countered this with the 
tenet that the adversary of Satan was not an archangel, 
but the Word itself. Now Hennas presents a sort of a 
compromise between the two points of view. He 
identifies the Prince of Light with the Son of God, but 
he leaves him the name Michael (Par; VIII, 1-3). 

This opens new perspectives on the origins of the 
Church of Rome. Rome had a considerable Jewish 
colony, as the Jewish catacombs discovered there have 
shown. Now these Jews represented widely different 
tendencies. Hence the groups of Christians converted 
from Judaism, who constituted the first community, also 
must have represented different tendencies. The first 
group was formed before the coming of the Apostles. 
Peter arrived among them, and then later Paul. 
Cullman is of the opinion that there were conflicts 
between the various tendencies and that Peter's martyr- 
dom had been caused by a denunciation on the part of 
Christians of Judaizing tendencies. 25 Hence the pres- 
ence of a converted Essene in Rome in the year 90 
A. D., appears entirely normal. 

Thus can be observed at one and the same time, the 
certainty and the complexity of the relations that exist 
between the Qumran documents and the origins of 
Christianity. Above all, what is striking is that the 
question poses itself at different stages which can be 

2!i Saint Pierre, pp. 58-67. 

Early Development of the Church 127 

summarized as follows: Three of these stages mainly 
involve the Zadokite community in the origins of 
Christianity: the first stage is pre-Christian, namely 
John the Baptist's membership in the Qumran com- 
munity before beginning his distinctive vocation; the 
second is the conversion of Zadokite priests to Chris- 
tianity in Jerusalem after the Pentecost, and the 
particular stamp which they gave to Syriac Christian- 
ity; the third stage is tiie entry into the Christian fold of 
many Essenes, following their dispersion in 70 A. D., 
and such conversions took place in all localities. 

On the other hand Christ Himself is a stranger to the 
Essenian world. And He is particularly a stranger to it 
because of His background, which is Galilee, and 
because of His Davidic Messianism and, even more, 
because of His doctrine and His works which are in 
complete contrast with Essenian doctrine and the life 
of the Teacher of Righteousness. The only points of 
contact concern practical customs, calendars, and 
structure of the community, in which Christ and the 
Apostles seem to have been inspired by what they saw 
in the most fervent Jewish communities of their time. 
This is true of the authors of the New Testament, and 
of John and Paul in particular. They borrowed forms 
of thought from Essenism, just like Origen and Clement 
were to borrow them from Philo, but the content of 
their doctrine is as different as the faith of Nicaea is 
from the doctrines of Timaeus. 

The fact remains that, by acquainting us with the 
immediate settings against and within which Chris- 


tianity was born, the Qumran discoveries have resolved 
a considerable number of problems for which exegesis 
was not able to find satisfactory answers: the early 
background of John the Baptist, the exact date of 
Easter, the origin of the hierarchy, the vocabulary of 
St. John, and the origin of Gnosticism. It is probable 
that the utilization of all the documents, and the com- 
parisons to which they will give rise, will add consider- 
ably to the number of enigmas that will be solved. 
Hence one can say that this discovery is one of the most 
sensational that has ever been made. This momentous 
discovery provides us with the setting in which Chris- 
tianity was born and shows us much that has been 
preserved within these historic times; and certainly, it 
helps us to see wherein the unique and distinctive 
character of Christianity lies. 

132 165